Don't eat romaine lettuce: Health Canada

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce is seen at market in Montreal on Thursday

Though other leafy greens have had E. coli problems in the past - the CDC issued a broad spinach warning in 2006 after 276 people fell ill and three died - romaine has had a particularly bad streak. Fifteen have been confirmed in Quebec.

Read the full public health notice at this link. They say the people became sick between mid-October and early November. Sixty-six percent of ill people are female.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has also reported 18 people infected with the same strain of E. coli. Ottawa Public Health has not said whether the person infected in Ottawa was hospitalized or suffered complications.

Those affected were between the ages of five and 93 and were located in Ontario and Quebec.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why it had stopped short of instructing grocery stores to stop selling romaine lettuce and restaurants to cease serving it.

A recall has not been issued at this time. "The Government of Canada has started more and more, issuing consumer advisories rather than issuing recalls", said McLinton. "This is a grey area and a very challenging situation for retailers and consumers to be in".

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday that 32 people in 11 states had been sickened by E coli between Oct 8 and 31.

The CDC also told consumers to throw away any romaine they may already have bought, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.

McLinton said his members value food safety.

Sobeys and Loblaws are pulling romaine lettuce from the shelves of all its stores across Canada.

There are new lettuce warnings out from the CDC and they are saying it's not safe to eat.

"We have the technology today to be able to trace it back", she added, referring to blockchain technology that allows people along the supply chain to securely enter information that can be accessed quickly in case of an emergency.

The FSIS website lists retailers known to have received the recalled products in 10 states: Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. "The financial implications are significant".

"Out of an abundance of caution, Loblaw Companies Limited is recalling and removing from store shelves across the country all romaine lettuce products", reads a statement from Loblaw.

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