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The Food and Drug Administration quickly identified romaine lettuce as the source of a months-long outbreak, but the foodborne illness investigation has been one of the agency's most complicated in years. Westend61/Getty Images hide caption

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Westend61/Getty Images

What Sparked An E. Coli Outbreak In Lettuce? Scientists Trace A Surprising Source

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Rinsing your produce is a good idea, but it won't give you 100 percent protection from bacteria that cause foodborne illness unless you cook it thoroughly. Because we eat lettuce raw, a lot of people got sick in a recent outbreak. StockFood/Getty Images/Foodcollection hide caption

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StockFood/Getty Images/Foodcollection

A man shops for vegetables near romaine lettuce for sale at a supermarket in California, where the first death from the E. coli outbreak was reported. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a recent E. coli outbreak is linked to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Ariz. At least 53 people have reported illnesses, 31 have been hospitalized. David Goldman/AP hide caption

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David Goldman/AP