The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isn鈥檛 messing around when it comes to romaine. Back in January, the leafy green was linked to E. coli outbreaks聽across 13 states, at which point the organization recommended consumers avoid聽chopped romaine, salads, and salad mixes. Now, it聽has expanded its warning to include romaine lettuce in all its forms, as聽risk of E. coli contamination continue to mount.

The warning聽now also applies to聽whole heads and hearts, as any romaine lettuce grown in the聽Yuma, Arizona region may be contaminated with聽E. coliO157:H7.聽To date, 53 people across 16 states聽have reported聽infection, with 31聽hospitalized.

While most strains of聽E. coli聽(a聽family of bacteria found in the environment, food, and intestines of people and animals) are harmless, some can wreak havoc on your health, with the most common聽symptoms being聽severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and聽diarrhea. Usually, symptoms develop three to four days after the聽germs are consumed聽with recovery happening聽in one week. E. coliO157:H7, however, can result in serious illness, including a form of聽kidney failure聽called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which five individuals聽have聽already developed.

While the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration,聽and聽public health officials in聽various states continue to聽investigate the cases and try to identify any specific聽grower, supplier, distributor, or brand聽that may be responsible, the CDC is encouraging individuals to not eat any romaine lettuce unless they can be absolutely聽certain it doesn鈥檛 come from Yuma.They also advise retailers and restaurants to聽not sell聽romaine lettuce for the time being.

Any leftover romaine you may already have in your fridge should be tossed, according to the center, even if you already聽ate some and didn鈥檛 get聽sick (Note: Washing it will聽not聽eliminate the bacteria). They advise聽sanitizing the refrigerator drawer or shelf聽it was kept in.

If you think you may be sick, speak to a healthcare professional immediately report your illness to the health department to help with their investigation.

Will you be avoiding romaine lettuce at all cost? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Justin Sullivan/Getty)聽