An outbreak of E. coli infections has been reported in six states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. At least 12 people have been infected. Five were hospitalized.
The CDC notice is connected to a voluntary recall of packages of romaine lettuce sold under the name Tanimura & Antle at Walmart stores. On Nov. 6, Tanimura & Antle said the affected products were distributed to 19 states and Puerto Rico. The recalled romaine lettuce was labeled with a "packed on" date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020.
Lab testing identified the outbreak strain in a sample of Tanimura & Antle's single-head romaine lettuce. The romaine was collected and analyzed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as part of routine sampling, the CDC said.
The E. coli strain found in the sampled romaine was the same as was identified among the ill people. However, the CDC said it could not determine whether the recalled Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce caused the illnesses.
"There is not enough epidemiologic and traceback information available at this time to determine if ill people got sick from eating Tanimura and Antle romaine lettuce," the CDC reported. The investigation continues.
The states listed in the CDC outbreak notice are California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
"It is unlikely that this product remains at retail establishments due to the shelf life of lettuce and the number of days that have passed," the company said in a statement on the FDA website. However, if any of the packages of romaine are still in homes, consumers are advised not to eat it.
No other products or packing dates are part of the recall.
An E. coli infection can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, usually three to four days after consumption. Most cases are mild, and people get better within a week, but the infection can cause severe kidney failure or death.