Why Health Experts Want You to Avoid Lettuce in 2018

Yes, this is bad news for Caesar salad fans.

A good source of dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, biotin, vitamin B1, copper, iron, and a range of other vitamins, lettuce is most definitely a staple of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, though, it's best to be avoided for the time being, thanks to a nasty outbreak of E. coli infections.

According to the CDC,  58 people have fallen ill in the U.S. and Canada, and one person has died.

At the moment, it's not definite that lettuce is the culprit in the U.S., as the CDC is interviewing people to determine the common denominator of what people ate before getting sick. But, in Canada, where 41 of the 58 illnesses were reported, The Public Health Agency has determined romaine lettuce as the source.

"Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the U.S., a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that romaine lettuce is almost always consumed raw," James Roger, food safety director at Consumer Reports, told NBC.

E-coli can usually be killed during the cooking process, which is why food that is eaten raw, like lettuce, poses a greater risk.

While the CDC cannot officially warn people to eschew lettuce until the source of the illness has been confirmed, Consumers Union's Jean Halloran said people should err on the side of caution and throw out any lettuce that they have in the fridge, as well as avoid buying any more until further notice.

"The available data strongly suggest that romaine lettuce is the source of the U.S. outbreak," she said. "If so, and people aren't warned, more may get sick."

E-coli can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and severe stomach cramps. The strain of E-coli in this lettuce is particularly dangerous, however, as it can cause kidney failure. Symptoms of kidney failure include extreme fatigue, decreased urination and paleness in the cheeks and under the eyes, and typically appear 7 days after contaminated food.

So might be better to stick with kale and collard greens, both of which have even more nutritional value anyway, for now!

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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