A multi-state outbreak of E. coli led Wendy’s to take the precautionary measure of removing romaine lettuce being used in sandwiches from restaurants in the region of the outbreak.
The CDC reports that as of August 18, 2022, a total of 37 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The illnesses started on dates ranging from July 26, 2022, to August 8, 2022.
A specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but among 26 people who have been interviewed, 22 (86%) reported eating sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants in Michigan, Ohio or Pennsylvania in the week before their illness started. Based on this information, Wendy’s removed the romaine lettuce being used in sandwiches from restaurants in those regions.
A spokesperson for Wendy’s released the following statement: “We are fully cooperating with public health authorities on their ongoing investigation of the regional E. coli outbreak reported in certain midwestern states. While the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of that outbreak, we have taken the precaution of discarding and replacing the sandwich lettuce at some restaurants in that region. The lettuce that we use in our salads is different, and is not affected by this action. As a company, we are committed to upholding our high standards of food safety and quality.”
The CDC emphasized that it is not advising that people avoid eating at Wendy’s restaurants or that people stop eating romaine lettuce.
The CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, the FDA and the USDA-FSIS are collecting and analyzing data at the ingredient level to identify the food source of the outbreak, confirm whether romaine lettuce is the source and determine if there are any other possible foods that could be the source of the outbreak.