Take that Caesar salad off your Thanksgiving menu, and maybe substitute a nice spinach salad.

On one of the busiest grocery shopping days of the year, produce sections were stripped of romaine lettuce after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a blanket warning to consumers, stores and restaurants to discard all romaine, no exceptions.

According to the CDC, 32 people in 11 states have become sick from eating contaminated romaine. Of those, 13 have been hospitalized, with one patient experiencing a form of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

Canadian health officials report 18 people in Ontario and Quebec provinces are sick with E. coli with the same DNA fingerprint as the U.S. cases. The same strain matched an outbreak of E. coli in late 2017 that affected multiple states and Canada, the CDC reported.

There are no cases in Maine, but the CDC reported two in New Hampshire and two in Massachusetts.

Across Maine, stores large and small pulled not only the bunches of romaine lettuce, but bag salad mixes that include romaine. At the Hannaford store in Portland’s Back Cove neighborhood, there were long rows of boxed spinach salad, below multiple printed notices of their voluntary recall of all romaine products.


Hannaford removed all romaine products from its stores after the CDC warning, spokesman Eric Blom said. The other major chain in Maine, Shaw’s, removed all products and told customers they could return them for full refunds.

Smaller stores, including Rosemont Market and the Portland Food Co-op, pulled the romaine lettuce, but local managers said it did not have a big impact because romaine is not a big seller this time of year.

“It didn’t really affect us. Maybe we had two cases,” said Doug Bermingham, the manager of the Rosemont Market and Bakery on Brighton Avenue.

At the Portland Food Co-op, produce manager Emily Lefebvre said they had to discard a 24-count box and some of the containers of mixed salads, such as a “spring mix.”

“Most local vendors are out of lettuce,” Lefebvre said, explaining that some of the greens are from out of state, although they try to source food locally.

The CDC said consumers who had romaine in their kitchens should thoroughly wash anything the lettuce may have touched, such as refrigerator drawers or shelves.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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