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The E. coli outbreak was identified by government officials on Oct. 8, and since then, 13 people have been hospitalized. Photo courtesy of Pexels.com.

Students at the University will have one less leafy green option at the dining halls, until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases new information about the nationwide E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce.

“We won’t know when we will be able to serve romaine lettuce again,” said Rick Piancone, the executive chef for Rockefeller and Mathey dining halls. “We are waiting for CDC notice.”

In April, the CDC issued another official warning telling consumers not to eat romaine lettuce. But that warning didn’t affect the University, because the contaminated lettuce was outside the dining halls’ purchasing zone.

Piancone said the dining halls are replacing romaine lettuce with spinach and other types of lettuce. He also said he’s surprised by how big the outbreak has become.

Since the outbreak was identified by U.S. government officials on Oct. 8, 13 people have been hospitalized, including one individual who suffered kidney failure, according to The New York Times.

On Nov. 20, the CDC released a food safety alert, advising U.S. consumers to refrain from eating any romaine lettuce. People were told to dispose of any romaine lettuce they had in their fridges, and retailers were told not to sell romaine lettuce.

In response to the CDC warning, the University decided to take drastic measures.

“Campus dining stopped serving romaine lettuce on Tuesday, Nov. 20, the day the CDC released its warning, and has not served it since,” Deputy University Spokesperson Michael E. Hotchkiss said. 

Linda Recine, the assistant director of purchasing for Campus Dining, is communicating with sellers to inform them that the University will not be buying romaine lettuce, according to Piancone.

Jeanna Joseph ’21 was surprised by the impact of the outbreak on the University.

She said she will now be more cautious when she eats on Nassau Street and will avoid salads that include romaine lettuce.

“I hope that the CDC is able to address the outbreak soon,” she said.

“I am glad that the University has stopped offering romaine in light of the current scare,” Julia Walton ’21 said. “But even after the current scare is over, romaine should still not be an option in the dining halls. I would be wary of romaine lettuce if it appears again soon.” 

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