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E. coli outbreak in Europe prompts airlines to change menus

An outbreak of a "super-toxic" strain of E. coli bacteria in Europe -- which has killed at least 18 people so far and sickened more than 1,600 -- has prompted some airlines to change their menus.

The culprit may be bacteria on cucumbers, lettuce and other salad ingredients, so just to be safe, American Airlines has decided to temporarily remove salads from its menus on flights departing Europe.

Experts say American travelers need to be cautious amid reports of an E. Coli outbreak in Europe. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.

“We are adjusting our menus out of Europe by eliminating leafy salads, lettuce and tomato garnishes and adding either a pasta salad or grapes,” said airline spokesperson Tim Smith. “We are replacing the salad menu items with other menu options to pre-empt any risk and alleviate concerns.” 

The airline has alerted travelers to this action with a notice on its website, which also states:

“We will closely monitor and take direction from the local health authorities and the World Health Organization and return to the original menu when we believe it is safe to do so.”

Other airlines, and the companies that prepare in-flight meals for airlines, are also making menu changes.

Lufthansa Airlines spokesperson Martin Riecken said after the May 25 warning from the German Robert-Koch institute about eating cucumbers, salads and tomatoes in North Germany, LSG Sky Chefs, the company that prepares in-flight meals for Lufthansa and other airlines, “initiated preventive action to adjust its meal production in Germany.”

The company stopped the use of raw cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce and is providing substitute products for meals on flights out of Germany until mid-June.

Delta Air Lines spokesperson Chris Kelly Singley said the airline is monitoring the situation, but "at this time, Delta is not pulling salads from our flights departing Europe.” 

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