You've tossed your romaine lettuce. What do you do now?

It's not enough to get rid of the produce. You need to clean your fridge, too.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – By now, you’ve likely seen the alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning you not to eat any romaine lettuce because it may be contaminated with E. coli.

You're not alone. Grocery stores nationwide are yanking the produce from their shelves. A Publix spokesperson said the chain will not sell any romaine lettuce until the CDC says it's safe to do so.

What do you need to do?

As the CDC points out, there are several steps you need to take when it comes to disposing of potentially contaminated food:

  • Throw away any romaine lettuce you haven't returned for a refund.
  • Get rid of any food that was stored with or near your romaine lettuce.
  • Do not try to wash or cook the lettuce to get rid of any E. coli.
  • Empty your fridge and clean it from top to bottom.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

But let’s face it, lettuce likely wasn’t on your Thanksgiving menu anyway.

So you’ve rummaged through your refrigerator for anything that even resembles lettuce – we’re looking at you, spinach – and you’ve thrown it all away. Problem solved, right?


As it turns out, the work isn’t done there. Health experts suggest you should get rid of anything that was stored with the lettuce, and it's probably a good idea to scrub down your fridge, too.

Here’s what you should do: Empty the fridge. Remove the shelves and drawers and rinse them in warm, soapy water. Then clean the inside of the fridge and sanitize it with a tablespoon of bleach.

It may seem like overkill, but the CDC advises against taking chances with tainted food. That’s why you shouldn’t try to wash or cook any lettuce you have, and why you need to clean your fridge.

Finally, once you’ve finished cleaning everything else, be sure to wash your hands. This will help keep any lingering germs from spreading.​

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