FDA warns against eating romaine lettuce due to E. coli multistate outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday said the public should not eat romaine lettuce as a result of a multistate E. coli outbreak.

At least 32 people have gotten sick and 13 have been hospitalized as a result of an outbreak believed to be connected to romaine lettuce, according to the FDA. So far, 11 states have reported cases, the latest onset of which was dated Oct. 31.

"People should not eat romaine lettuce until more is known about the source of the contaminated lettuce and the status of the outbreak," the federal agency said.

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The FDA, which is investigating the matter with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and state and local agencies, said they're also working alongside officials in Canada, where a similar outbreak was discovered.

"A traceback investigation" is underway to find the source of the romaine lettuce consumed by individuals who became ill, according to the agency. They added that the information they currently have is too limited to make a targeted recall.

"At this stage in the investigation, the most efficient way to ensure that contaminated romaine [lettuce] is off the market would be for [the] industry to voluntarily withdraw product from the market, and to withhold distribution of romaine until public health authorities can ensure the outbreak is over and/or until FDA can identify a specific source of contamination," the FDA said.

The agency is taking "quick and aggressive" measures regarding the outbreak, which was announced just days before the Thanksgiving holiday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

"While we’ve made progress, it’s still early in this investigation and work remains to pinpoint the source of contamination that contributed to this outbreak and allow us to employ more targeted measures to reduce future risk,” Gottlieb said. "This isn’t the first romaine outbreak we have seen in the recent past, and we will continue to take steps to identify the root causes of these events and take action to prevent future outbreaks."

"We’re committed to working with our partners to implement additional safety practices so that we’ll be better positioned to prevent outbreaks like this from occurring. In the meantime, we’ll continue to take action around this outbreak to help protect American consumers from eating potentially contaminated romaine lettuce as our current investigation unfolds," Gottlieb continued.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.