You might want to avoid eating romaine lettuce for now

Health officials say it could be the cause of an E. coli outbreak.

You might wanna skip that Caesar salad at dinner tonight.

Romaine lettuce may be linked to an E. coli outbreak that has sickened people in multiple states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Dec. 28, 17 people had been infected with the toxic bacteria in 13 states. Minnesota isn't on the list, but cases have been reported in nearby Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

A larger outbreak is happening in Canada, where the Public Health Agency of Canada has flat out named romaine lettuce as the culprit. American health officials are a bit more conservative, with the CDC stating it has yet to find a specific cause.

The agency is still investigating, as are several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They're interviewing sick people to determine what they ate in the week before their illness started.

Because it has not identified a source of the infections, the CDC says it is "unable to recommend" whether U.S. residents should avoid romaine lettuce.

That also means the agency hasn't named what brands or types of romaine lettuce might be involved. And as Modern Farmer points out, it could take a long time for a recall to happen in the U.S. – meaning more people could get sick in the meantime.

To that, the CDC's website says: "Officials thoroughly investigate each outbreak, and they are constantly developing new ways to investigate and solve outbreaks faster."

Canadian health officials say they are still working to determine the exact source of the iffy romaine lettuce. Most of the Canadians who became sick reported eating romaine lettuce at home, as well as in prepared salads purchased at grocery stores, restaurants and fast food chains.

Consumer Reports is advising Americans not to eat romaine lettuce, noting that this strain of E. coli, called 0157:H7, produces a toxin that in some cases can lead to serious illness, kidney failure, and even death. 

Young children, the elderly, and anyone who has an existing condition (such as cancer or diabetes) that weakens the immune system are at greater risk.

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