FDA Warns Consumers About Fresh Spinach Products

Posted on September 18, 2006

The FDA and CDC are tracking a dangerous outbreak of e.coli found in fresh bagged spinach products. The warnings began with this alert from the FDA on 9-14-06. An MSNBC.com news story reports that the FDA is still probing the source of the contamination.

Federal health officials continue to probe the source of E. coli contamination and warned consumers not to resume eating fresh spinach products.

The Food and Drug Administration has linked a California company�s fresh spinach to the outbreak, which has killed one person and sickened at least 109 others. Investigators are working to pinpoint the source of the bacteria. Possible sources include contaminated irrigation water, known to be a problem in the state�s Salinas Valley, a major produce-growing area.

Tampering is not suspected in an outbreak of E. coli linked to fresh spinach. The FBI is monitoring the situation, said FBI spokesman Rich Kolko. Kolko added it was a routine and precautionary measure, and is not indicative of any suspicious activity.

So far, the exact source of the e.coli in the spinach has not been found. 102 infections, and one fatality, had been reported from the E. Coli outbreak as of the FDA's 9-16-06 update. A more recent CDC update has the number of people infected at 109.
Among the ill persons, 55 (50%) were hospitalized, 16 (15%) developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), and an adult in Wisconsin died. Eighty-one (74%) were female and 6 (6%) were children under 5 years old.

Dates of illness onset ranged from August 2 to September 9, 2006. The states that have reported cases are California (1 case), Connecticut (2), Idaho (4), Indiana (8), Kentucky (4), Maine (2), Michigan (6), Minnesota (1), New Mexico (5), Nevada (1), New York (7), Ohio (10), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (3), Utah (14), Virginia (1), Washington (2), Wisconsin (32), and Wyoming (1).

HUS can be very dangerous as the FDA notes in its most recent alert about the spinach e.coli outbreak.
E. coli O157:H7 causes diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called HUS. HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
As a result of this outbreak the FDA has expaned the Lettuce Safety Initiative to include spinach.

For more information and future updates check these special websites set up by the FDA and CDC.

  • FDA's Spinach and E.Coli Outbreak page
  • CDC E.Coli Spinach Page

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