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Federal and state health authorities said Friday they are investigating an outbreak of E. coli infections stemming from romaine lettuce harvested in the Salinas Valley.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday issued a food safety alert advising restaurants, retailers and consumers to throw out any romaine from Salinas, including whole heads, hearts of romaine, and packages of precut romaine lettuce and salad mixes with romaine.

As of Thursday, 40 people in California and 15 other states have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli, according to the CDC. There have been 28 hospitalizations related to the outbreak, including five people who have developed kidney failure.

Most romaine lettuce is labeled with a harvest location that shows where it was grown. If there is no growing region label on any romaine lettuce, authorities advise throwing it out.

Consumers and retailers should wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine lettuce from Salinas was stored, according to the CDC.

In addition, suppliers, distributors, and others in the supply chain should not ship or sell romaine harvested in Salinas, the CDC said.

The outbreak stems from the same strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7 that caused outbreaks linked to leafy greens in 2017 and to romaine lettuce in 2018, according to the CDC.

More information on the outbreak is available on the CDC website.

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