CHICAGO — When it comes to grocery shopping, Thanksgiving week is already one of the busiest times of the year. Throw in a nationwide alert over romaine lettuce contaminated by E. coli, and things get even crazier at your local grocery store.
Public health officials report that two Illinois residents are among nearly three dozen people affected by a strain of E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Tuesday on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that 32 people in 11 states have been infected with the same Shiga-toxin strain of E. coli.
Officials are advising consumers not to eat romaine lettuce, and telling restaurants and retailers not to serve or sell any. People with romaine lettuce in their homes are also told to throw it away, even if some of it has been eaten and no one has become sick. This includes whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut lettuce and mixes that contain romaine.
At Kramer foods in Hinsdale, every head of romaine lettuce, every bag of mixed greens containing romaine or baby romaine was pulled off the shelf.
“It’s been a huge headache,” sayid Peter Testa, Testa Produce, Inc.
He says hundreds of millions of dollars will be lost across the country over the next few days, with distributors, growers and retailers stuck with the bill.