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Wendy’s Removes Lettuce From Sandwiches in Three States as E. coli Outbreak Spreads

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Fast food chain Wendy’s has removed lettuce from its sandwiches in three states — Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — as a precautionary measure amid an E. coli outbreak that has sickened over 37 people in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced the outbreak but has not identified a source.

“A specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania before getting sick,” the CDC said on its website, which also revealed that 10 people were hospitalized as of Friday. “Based on this information, Wendy’s is taking the precautionary measure of removing the romaine lettuce being used in sandwiches from restaurants in that region. Wendy’s uses a different type of romaine lettuce for salads. Investigators are working to confirm whether romaine lettuce is the source of this outbreak, and whether romaine lettuce used in Wendy’s sandwiches was served or sold at other businesses. Wendy’s is fully cooperating with the investigation.”

According to the CDC, two people in Pennsylvania had fallen ill with E. coli; 15 in Michigan and 19 in Ohio as of Friday.

The federal health authority also said there is no evidence that romaine lettuce sold in grocery stores is tainted. Additionally, the CDC isn’t advising people to stop eating at Wendy’s restaurants or to stop consuming romaine lettuce. 

For its part, Wendy’s, which has chains on St. Croix and St. Thomas, said, “We are fully cooperating with public health authorities on their ongoing investigation of the regional E. coli outbreak reported in certain midwestern states.”

The CDC’s investigation into a possible E. coli outbreak started on July 26, when people started reporting that they had fallen ill. E. coli symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. “Most people with an E. coli infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure,” the CDC said.

The health authority advises people to wash their hands often and thoroughly, and cook meals at an adequate temperature that can kill germs, among other food-safety measures.

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