Can You Wash E. Coli Off Your Romaine Lettuce?

Playing Dr. Oz On The 2018 E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce
Dr. Oz On The 2018 E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce Aired April 27, 2018

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the major romaine lettuce issue that’s been freaking everyone out — but don't be so fast to blame the lettuce!

"It's really not the lettuce's fault — it's the livestock," Dr. Oz explains. "We use 85 percent of all the antibiotics in America on cattle — to help them grow faster [and] to deal with factory-forming habits."

The downside? The cows then get a bacteria in their gut: E. coli, which — after going No. 2 — can get transferred to the water supply and go into plants like lettuce.

MORE: Salmonella Egg Recall Health Tips: How to Cook Your Eggs to Make Sure They're Safe

Which leads us to the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce.

Which begs the question... can you wash E. coli off lettuce?

Answer: Probably not.

As The New York Times reported, "It only takes a few cells of E. coli to make you sick, so while washing produce lowers the risk, it doesn’t eliminate it entirely."

Currently, as the CDC website states, "According to the FDA, the last shipments of romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region were harvested on April 16, 2018 and the harvest season is over. It is unlikely that any romaine lettuce from the Yuma growing region is still available in people’s homes, stores, or restaurants due to its 21-day shelf life." Check here for ongoing updates on the E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak from the CDC.

MORE: Can This Paper Help Keep Your Lettuce Fresh for More Than a Week?


Symptoms of E. coli typically begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria, says Dr. Oz — although most patients become ill three or four days after consumption. Symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

Most people recover in five to seven days. But remember, those most at risk for E. coli illness include the very young, the very old and individuals with compromised immune systems.


That said, it never hurts to wash your lettuce, as it will help you remove some bacteria, pesticides and dirt. And if you want to know the best way to scrub your lettuce clean, Dr. Oz will show you in the video above! (Which, he notes, will be particularly useful once this outbreak is said and done.)

This Week on the Show

You Might Like