The romaine lettuce Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak that took one person's life may finally be winding down. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their recommendations to consumers, indicating that the lettuce may not pose as much of a risk anymore.
Previously, the CDC recommended that consumers avoid any romaine products from the Yuma, Arizona growing region sold at grocery stores or served at restaurants. But, according to an update from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the last shipments of lettuce from the Yuma region for this harvest season were shipped out on April 16. And, because they only have a shelf life of 21 days, it's "unlikely" that any of that potentially contaminated lettuce is in your house or beloved lunch spots, the FDA says.
This isn't an official "end of outbreak" announcement, but it's definitely a good sign. So far, the outbreak has spread across 32 states, affected 175 people, hospitalized 75 people, and killed one, according to the CDC.
It can take up to eight days for symptoms of an E. coli infection to appear, so you should still be aware of them.
As SELF wrote previously, the type of E. coli bacteria involved in this particular outbreak causes diarrhea (often bloody) as well as severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Symptoms usually show up between three and four days after eating the contaminated food, but they can take anywhere between two and eight days. Most healthy people can recover from an infection with rest and hydration, but it's still a good idea to check in with your doctor.
And, in rare cases, people can develop a serious complication of an E. coli infection, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which affects the kidneys. Symptoms of HUS include fever, decreased urination, and abdominal pain.
Remember, eating contaminated lettuce isn't the only way to end up with a foodborne illness. So, while implementing safe cooking practices is especially crucial right now, it's important to follow them as much as possible all the time. That includes things like keeping raw meat separate from fruits and veggies and washing your hands and your cutting board before and after chopping raw produce.
But, for now, take heart in knowing your salad bowls are probably safe again.