UPDATE: The national recall of romaine lettuce has worsened since the FDA and CDC first traced an E.coli outbreak back to Arizona, and now both organizations are recommending a blanket ban on all romaine lettuce.
An additional five states have sprouted new cases, and health officials are reporting a hospitalization rate of more than 60 percent, which the CDC says is twice the normal rate.
The CDC released an update citing 53 confirmed E.coli sicknesses across 16 different states nationwide—more than 31 people needed to be rushed to the hospital stemming from romaine-related infections, and five of them have developed a rare kind of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. The newest cases are popping up in Alaska, California, Louisiana, Montana, and Arizona itself.
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Both the CDC and the FDA have doubled down in warning shoppers and home cooks about this massive recall. This is the first time in recent years, the agencies have recommend a blanket ban.
“If you cannot confirm the source of the romaine lettuce, do not buy it or eat it. If you have already purchased products containing chopped romaine lettuce, including bagged salads, salad mixes, or prepared salads, throw them away,” the FDA writes, in a new update released on Wednesday.
Health officials are wary of the everyday shopper's ability to effectively identify the at-risk romaine lettuce, which was produced specifically in Yuma, Arizona. And this particular recall is extra worrisome given that Arizona is one of the nation's leading providers of all kinds of produce: There are more than 1,300 farms in operation in the state with upwards of 26 million acres of farmland used to grow food, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
But with the FDA's formal warning, and reports of retailers pulling all romaine products and prepared salads from their shelves, it might be best to simply avoid romaine for the foreseeable future. If you're hungry for a Caesar salad, try using kale.