Tainted Spinach - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/18/06

Tainted Spinach

The Food and Drug Administration is still warning consumers not to eat fresh spinach as investigators continue to search for the source of E. coli bacteria that has sickened at least 109 people in 19 states.

There is also concern those numbers could rise as labs closed over the weekend begin to analyze more data. Investigators tracking the source of the E-coli outbreak in spinach now doubt it's a case of tampering. 

A Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman says there's "no evidence" indicating any spinach was tampered with. But the exact source of the bacteria remains elusive. The FDA says water used in irrigation is one possibility.  So far, one person has died and more than 100 others have been sickened by E-coli.

The FDA and California health officials plan to spend Monday tracing the infected spinach to individual farms.  They say the spinach could've been contaminated in the fields or during processing. 

Natural Selection Foods, America's largest grower of organic produce, has been linked to the outbreak. And the FDA spokeswoman denies the company's claim that its organic spinach was cleared of suspicion. 

Nineteen states are reporting spinach-related E-coli cases, and the FDA says consumers should continue to steer clear of fresh spinach products.  With more cases of E. coli reported, River Ranch Fresh Foods has expanded its recall of spring mixes containing spinach that were sold under the labels Hy-Vee, Fresh N' Easy, and Farmers Market.  All contain spinach purchased from Natural Selection. 

At least 109 people in 19 states have been sickened.  A death in Wisconsin has been linked to the spinach, and another is being investigated, that of an Ohio girl who was almost two.

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