How Wendy's Sandwiches May Be The Cause Of An E. Coli Outbreak

Less than a week ago, public health officials revealed that an E. coli outbreak had sickened people across Ohio and Michigan, and that the illness could be caused by the same source, per The Wall Street Journal. Now it appears the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may have found the cause of the outbreak, because most who got sick reported eating at a Wendy's in the week before the illness had set in. Specifically, 22 out of 26 persons who had spoken to the CDC said they had eaten at a Wendy's in Ohio, Michigan, or Pennsylvania, per The New York Times. Most said they had eaten sandwiches which contained romaine lettuce.

Even as it issued this update to what it originally described as a "fast-moving outbreak", the CDC has said it hasn't yet confirmed whether the lettuce was specifically linked to the illness, which has now sickened 37 persons and hospitalized 10. Still, Wendy's has chosen to stop serving the lettuce that is being used in the sandwiches in the affected region. It has also clarified that the lettuce used in the sandwiches is different from that which is found in its salads. The CDC has further said that Wendy's is "fully cooperating with the investigation."

Romaine lettuce has been identified as a possible culprit

Even as it says Wendy's sandwich romaine lettuce could be behind the outbreak, the CDC has said it is not telling people to avoid eating at Wendy's, nor is it saying that diners should stop consuming romaine lettuce at all, since the federal agency said there is no evidence that the lettuce being sold at retail outlets or other restaurants is linked to the outbreak.

This isn't the first time romaine lettuce has been linked to an E. coli outbreak. In January 2019, the CDC issued a food safety alert after 167 persons in 27 states had reported getting sick after eating contaminated romaine lettuce, which was grown in California. 85 people ended up being hospitalized, and 15 people suffered from a type of kidney failure. Other E. coli outbreaks have been linked to ingredients like ground beef.

While the CDC may have a suspect for this current outbreak, it is still asking those who may have gotten sick to come forward and report any symptoms of an E. coli infection to public health officials, along with information regarding what was eaten the week before symptoms set in.

The CDC also warns consumers to call a healthcare provider immediately if they experience any severe signs of E. coli infection, such as severe vomiting, dehydration, or diarrhea that is bloody, does not improve after three days, or is accompanied by a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.