E. coli outbreak linked to Fresh Express salad kits

National News

SALINAS, Calif. (CBS News) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of a new E. coli outbreak linked to Salinas, California, where the U.S. gets most of its lettuce. At least eight cases of E. coli in three states have been linked to Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits.

But it’s unclear if these new cases are connected to a more widespread outbreak from romaine that has sickened 102 people in 23 states.

According to the CDC, people started getting sick between November 5-15 in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin after eating the salad mix. One of those patients developed kidney failure.

This image shows a Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits.  CDC

Investigators are still trying to figure out which ingredient in the mix was contaminated, but a likely culprit is romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing region.

Just last month, the CDC  issued a massive food safety alert warning consumers not to eat romaine from Salinas, after widespread contamination caused by a different E. coli strain. The produce becomes tainted after coming into contact runoff contaminated with animal feces.

“Pre-washed is good but it’s not always good enough. At every stage along the way we need to have testing to know that in fact we have an entirely safe food,” said UCLA professor Dr. Jonathan Fielding.

Fresh Express said it’s working with the CDC. Salinas Valley produces 60% of the nation’s lettuce. Now the CDC telling people to avoid all romaine lettuce grown there until notice.

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