The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued this warning about an E. coli outbreak, “Do not eat any romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts, chopped, organic and salad mixes with romaine until we learn more. If you don’t know if it’s romaine or can’t confirm the source, don’t eat it.”

Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center's Director of Food & Nutrition Services Richard Doscher, RD, CDN, shared the following

"Although the CDC has only issued a warning, I would highly recommend that the public take it very seriously. 32 people have been affected, 13 of whom have been hospitalized as a result of contaminated lettuce. Most sources of E.coli are harmless and may only cause a brief stint of diarrhea. However, the more dangerous strain, E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and, possibly, a mild fever. The toxin generally enters the body through contaminated food sources like ground beef and fresh produce.

Combat this is by thoroughly cooking ground meat to 160F to kill the E.coli bacteria. Use a calibrated thermometer and insert the tip in the thickest part of the formed patty. Also, be sure to thoroughly wash all fresh produce like lettuce to remove any dirt or debris that may be harboring this dangerous bacteria. This does not mean the lettuce is free of the toxin but less will be present. Finally, avoid cross-contamination when preparing foods; wash hands before and after preparing individual food items, keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods and always wash your utensils, knives and cutting boards with hot soapy water in between tasks."

Good Samaritan Hospital is a member of Catholic Health Services, an integrated health care delivery system with six hospitals, three skilled nursing facilities, a regional home nursing service, hospice and a multiservice, community-based agency for persons with special needs. Under the sponsorship of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, CHS serves hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders each year, providing care that extends from the beginning of life to helping people live their final years in comfort, grace and dignity. 

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