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Health Officials Warn To Stay Away From Romaine Lettuce After Infectious Outbreak

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Toronto Sun / Life After Gluten

During winter, most people strive to stock up on all the nutrients they can by eating healthy. As flu rates are higher this year and colder weather is affecting more North Americans than in previous years, people are striving to add more greens to their lunch or dinner menu.

But the most recent health scare has everyone in North America worried.

According to Consumer Reports, over the past seven weeks, more than 58 people in the U.S. and Canada have been diagnosed with a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria. Five people in the U.S. have been hospitalized and one has died. There's also been one death in Canada.

Most strains of this bacteria are harmless to humans, but some of them can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and other symptoms. Usually you'll hear that meat products are infected with the bacteria, but that doesn't mean fruits and vegetables can't be contaminated.

“Vegetables can be contaminated if animal feces are in the field or in irrigation or washing water,” James Rogers, Director of Food Safety and Research at Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “The bacteria can also be transmitted if a person who is carrying the bacteria doesn’t wash his or her hands after using the bathroom and then processes or prepares food.”

Health officials warn this strain is deadly, and simply washing your greens is not good enough.

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