CDC: Avoid all romaine lettuce from Yuma or of unknown origin

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Romaine lettuce heads (USDA file)

An E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce originated from one growing area in Arizona, according to authorities. More than 80 illnesses in 19 states (including New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) are linked to the tainted lettuce, according to the CDC's official count.

The CDC had previously warned consumers only about bagged chopped romaine lettuce but is now saying anyone who purchased any type of romaine lettuce—including whole heads or hearts of romaine—should throw it out if it came from the Yuma, Arizona, region.

The problem is that produce labels often do not identify growing regions and a restaurant may not know the origin, either. So the CDC is urging consumers to avoid romaine lettuce for now if you cannot confirm that it came from somewhere other than Yuma.

Nutritionist Rachel Lustgarten said this is a good time to mix up your salad routine and try alternatives to romaine. She suggested spinach, kale, radicchio, frisée, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and more.

The good news is that this month most of the industry's romaine lettuce production has shifted back to California. So hopefully it won't be too much longer. But of course, you'll want to wait for the CDC to give the all clear.