Wendy's Is Removing This From Sandwiches Amid E. Coli Outbreak, CDC Says

So far, 37 illnesses across four states have been linked to one ingredient at the chain.

Of all the major fast food chains available to customers in the U.S., Wendy's remains one of the most popular options for diners looking for a quick meal. Currently, the chain operates more than 6,500 locations in the U.S. and across 29 countries globally. The beloved restaurant has developed a devoted following of fans thanks to its commitment to high-quality ingredients and unique menu items such as chili and baked potatoes, setting it apart from other quick-and-easy meal options. But now, Wendy's is pulling one major ingredient from its sandwiches due to its potential link to an E. coli outbreak. Read on to see what essential item the restaurant is holding off on for now.

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An E. coli outbreak across four states could be linked to Wendy's.

SPENCER , WISCONSIN, October, 16, 2015 Wendy's Restaurant Sign on a Storefront Wendy's is an international food chain of stores and was founded in 1969
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On Aug. 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria could potentially be linked to Wendy's. While the agency says that they have not established an official source, an investigation has found that most of those who have fallen ill did so after eating a sandwich from the fast food chain.

So far, 37 people have been sickened across Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, the Associated Press reports. The CDC says this figure includes 10 severe cases that required hospitalization. Now, you may not be able to order one popular topping from its menu for the time being as a result.

Wendy's is removing one popular topping from its sandwiches

GENTING HIGHLAND, MALAYSIA-JULY 23, 2017: Wendy's outlet in Genting Highland Premium Outlet, Malaysia. Wendy's is the world's third largest hamburger fast food chain with approximately 6,650 locations
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According to the CDC, Wendy's restaurants in the affected region will remove all romaine lettuce from their sandwiches as a temporary precaution. The chain decided to get rid of the leafy greens after reports discovered those who had been confirmed as part of the outbreak had eaten sandwiches containing the vegetable as an ingredient.

The agency clarifies that it uses a different type of romaine lettuce for its popular salads and that the menu changes will not affect those items. The investigation into the outbreak is ongoing, including whether or not the affected produce is to blame for the illnesses and if any other businesses have sold it. The CDC also emphasized that it is not advising people to stop eating at Wendy's restaurants or to avoid romaine lettuce purchased in grocery stores or served in other restaurants, citing a lack of evidence that those items are linked to the outbreak.

The agency said that Wendy's was fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation. "As a company, we are committed to upholding our high standards of food safety and quality," the restaurant chain said in a statement, per the AP.

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An E. coli infection can cause severe symptoms that often begin with stomach cramps.

young woman hunched over with stomach pain
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The CDC says that those infected with dangerous strains of E. coli typically first see symptoms three to four days after eating the microorganism. They include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody or accompanied by a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, and vomiting so much that it's impossible to keep liquids down. These symptoms can also cause dehydration, which can come with symptoms such as dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up.

According to the agency, most people recover from the infection within five to seven days without requiring treatment. But in 5 to 10 percent of cases, it can develop into a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) that requires hospitalization.

Here's what you should do if you think you've been sickened by the affected ingredient.

the exterior and sign of a Wendy's restaurant in Seaside, California
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According to the CDC, no deaths have been reported due to the outbreak. However, the agency says "the true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses" due to investigation processing times.

The CDC advises anyone who develops symptoms of E. coli infection to call their healthcare provider immediately for treatment. They should also make a list of everything they've had to eat for the past week leading up to becoming sick and report their illness to any state and local health departments so it may be included in any potential investigation.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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