CDC is investigating an E. coli outbreak affecting 13 states, including Pennsylvania


But Consumer Reports are advising people to stop eating romaine lettuce all together until the source is identified. So far, five people have been hospitalized in the U.S. Officials said one person has died in the U.S. and another in Canada.

Consumer Reports is asking the Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration to work harder at warning people about the issue, NBC News reports.

"Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection", the agency said in a statement.

Health authorities tracked down romaine lettuce in Canada as the source of the E. coli outbreak, and United States officials are also taking caution.

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'Even though we can't say with 100 percent certainty that romaine lettuce is the cause of the E. coli outbreak in the USA, a greater degree of caution is appropriate given that lettuce is nearly always consumed raw, ' Director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports, James Rogers said. Public health officials are now interviewing people to determine what common food they may have eaten before falling ill.

"Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether USA residents should avoid a particular food".

Not only does he advise not purchasing romaine lettuce now on grocery store shelves, he suggests consumers toss out any they have in the fridge.

It's certainly possible that the two outbreaks could be the same, but USA officials say they need more evidence to make that conclusion.

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While washing any greens may help avoid some illnesses, Consumer Reports warns that it may not get rid of all E. coli bacteria that may be present.

Anybody can get sick with E. coli, though young children, older adults, and people with a weakened immune system are more at risk, the CDC says.

A spokesperson from Loblaws said that the company is actively monitoring the investigation and if the products are recalled, the organization will immediately remove and dispose of them.

"This is especially true for this outbreak strain of E. coli (O157:H7), which is more likely to cause severe illness than other E. coli strains", Public Health Agency of Canada reported. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, pain or tenderness, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

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The abundance of caution comes in part because romaine lettuce is nearly always eaten raw, according to Consumer Reports.