Unclean greens: how America’s E coli outbreaks in salads are linked to cows

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Infections linked to leafy greens have hospitalised 200 Americans since 2018. The finger of blame now points to cattle

There was a time when you could nearly always find a head of romaine lettuce in my crisper. The little black dress of salad greens, romaine stands up fine on its own in a classic Caesar salad and also serves as the perfect foil for stronger-flavoured greens or fillings in a sandwich.

But in the last couple of years, romaine has become a worrisome food in the US. Since 2018, outbreaks (since declared over) of E coli linked to leafy greens – primarily romaine lettuce – have sickened 474 Americans, led to 219 hospitalisations, and left six dead, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

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