FDA says harvest season over for E. coli-linked romaine lettuce

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its warning about an E. coli outbreak connected to romaine lettuce to cover all forms of romaine, including whole heads and hearts of romaine grown in the Yuma, Arizona, growing area. That means the contaminated lettuce is now past its 21-day shelf life. "Once it was confirmed that the romaine we serve did not come from Yuma, Arizona, we deemed it to be safe for consumption".

The person who was sick consumed lettuce at several locations.

The CDC has stopped advising consumers to throw away romaine lettuce if they can't confirm where it's from. Last week, the outbreak was reported in just 29 states. The death in California remains the only one in this outbreak.

The CDC said 20 people had developed a severe effect of E. coli infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome. "The most recent illnesses reported to CDC started when romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region was likely still available in stores, restaurants, and in peoples' homes".

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It's the worst outbreak of E. coli since 2006 when illnesses traced to spinach killed three and sickened more than 270.

The reported strain of E. coli, which produces poisonous substances known as Shiga toxins, can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

In an email to CBS, the Food and Drug Administration said packaging provides limited information about the source of the products.

The agency continues with its investigation to find the source of the contamination.

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