Planning to serve a romaine salad with blackberries on Thanksgiving? Check the ingredients.
Two separate multistate food poisoning outbreaks have struck Minnesota, causing state health officials to warn consumers to make sure they are not using tainted products.
Romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, Calif., region has been linked to at least 67 illnesses nationwide, including three in Minnesota and 21 in Wisconsin. Some of the lettuce contains a bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and, in severe cases, kidney damage. So far, 39 patients nationally have required hospitalization, including six with kidney failure.
And on Wednesday, state health officials reported the first Minnesota case of hepatitis A in an outbreak linked to blackberries sold at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market grocery stores in September.
Although health officials have issued alerts about both outbreaks in the last week — and asked stores and restaurants to pull any food that might be infected — they issued new warnings this week as case counts grew higher.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging consumers to avoid any romaine that is labeled “grown in Salinas” and any romaine that does not have a label identifying the growing region. That includes romaine stalks as well as packaged romaine and any prepackaged salad mixes that might contain romaine.
The tainted blackberries were sold at Fresh Thyme stores between Sept. 9 and Sept. 30. They were fresh, nonorganic berries, but health officials are concerned that some people might have frozen them at home for use during the holidays. They should be thrown out, officials said.
Hepatitis A symptoms can occur two to seven weeks after exposure and include yellow skin or eyes, lack of appetite, stomach discomfort, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, joint pain and fatigue. The most recent case developed two weeks ago.
People who eat the tainted romaine usually develop symptoms within three to four days — typically diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea. Most patients recover within five to seven days, but a doctor should be called if the patient experiences diarrhea for more than 10 days, a fever higher than 102F, bloody stool or severe vomiting.