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Romaine Recall Leaves Mpls. Nonprofit Looking For Nutritious Replacement

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Just days before families sit down for their Thanksgiving feasts, there is a warning about what could be on your table.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that no romaine lettuce is safe to eat. This comes after E. coli made dozens of people sick.

This warning is extensive, and grocery stores across the United States are already taking precautions to keep their customers safe.

With two days left until Turkey Day, it's left people scrambling to find substitutes. The recall is impacting nonprofits and Minnesotans in need.

Minneapolis nonprofit Open Arms of Minnesota tossed out dozens of pounds of fresh romaine lettuce Tuesday.

"For a nonprofit like us, something like this can be a big deal," said executive director Leah Hebert Welles.

The organization cooks and delivers free, nutritious food to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.

"Every client of ours gets two fresh, green salads every week, so that changed and we are having to find solutions so that people can still get fresh vegetables," said Hebert Welles.

Last month, 32 people in 11 states were infected with E. coli, and health investigators believe romaine lettuce is likely to blame.

Romaine Warning
(credit: CBS)

CDC officials are warning people not to eat any romaine lettuce, and that grocery stores and restaurants not sell or serve any until they learn more about the outbreak.

The warning covers all forms of romaine, including whole heads, hearts and salad mixes.

As for Open Arms, hundreds of meals had to be altered in light of Tuesday's romaine recall. Volunteers are swapping out salads for carrots to make sure their clients get the right nutrition.

"Many of our clients are in chemotherapy or are taking medications that compromise their immune systems, so anything can make them sickened," said Hebert Welles.

The loss of all that lettuce will pack a big punch to a small nonprofit like Open Arms. The food they serve their clients is very specific, so it's tough for them to accept food donations.

Here is more information about how to support Open Arms.

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