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Romaine lettuce grows near Soledad, California, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Fiala

E. coli in romaine lettuce is making people sick. Here’s what you need to know

Americans should not eat romaine lettuce amid an ongoing E. coli outbreak, according to a food safety alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday.

Why stay away from romaine?

Across 11 states, 32 people have become sick, including 13 people who needed hospitalization, the CDC said. So far, one person who ate contaminated food developed kidney failure; no one has died. Children under age 5 and adults over age 65, along with people who have weakened immune systems, are most at risk for serious complications after ingesting the bacteria.

Restaurants should not serve romaine lettuce, grocery stores should pull it from the shelves, and people should get rid of whatever they might have in the fridge, the CDC said.

“Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick,” the CDC said.

When can we add romaine back to our salads?

People should avoid eating romaine lettuce until more is known about the bacteria’s origins and the outbreak’s status, the FDA cautioned. The agency is conducting an investigation to trace the contaminated lettuce that made people sick to the bacteria’s source.

This strain, E. coli O157:H7, resembles an outbreak among leafy green vegetables in fall 2017, the FDA reported. In last year’s outbreak, 25 people across 15 states became sick after eating romaine lettuce with that bacterial strain.

What does that mean for Thanksgiving?

The announcement comes two days before Thanksgiving, so people planning their holiday meals may need to adjust menus accordingly. (But who eats salad on Thanksgiving anyway?)

And it’s not the only food-safety concern going into the holiday season — turkey distributor Jennie-O recalled 91,000 pounds of meat due to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning in poultry products. Since Nov. 5, 63 people have been hospitalized with food poisoning linked to Salmonella Reading, and one person died in California, Kaiser Health News reported.

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