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FDA STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
P06-142
September 22, 2006

Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242,
Julie Zawisza, julie.zawisza@fda.hhs.gov or
Susan Bro, susan.bro@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries:
888-INFO-FDA


 

FDA Statement on Foodborne E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Spinach

This statement is current as of September 22, 2006. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to provide the public with regular updates on the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak each day until further notice.

Update

  • To date, 166 cases of illness due to E. coli O157:H7 infection have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 27 cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), 88 hospitalizations and one death.
  • To date, 25 states have reported cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection. The additional states as of today are Maryland and Tennessee.
  • FDA is working closely with CDC and the state of California. FDA has determined that the spinach implicated in the outbreak was grown in three counties (Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara) in California.
  • Spinach grown in the rest of the United States has not been implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The public can be confident that spinach grown in the non-implicated areas can be consumed. Other produce grown in these counties is not implicated in this outbreak. Processed spinach (e.g., frozen and canned spinach) is also not implicated in this outbreak.
  • Industry is working to get spinach from areas not implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak back on the market.
  • Investigators from FDA, CDC and the state of California are working to narrow the area implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak further.

Case Reports

To date, 166 cases of illness due to E. coli infection have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 27 cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), 88 hospitalizations and one death. Illnesses continue to be reported to CDC. This is considered to be an ongoing investigation.

States Affected

The 25 affected states are: Arizona (4), California (1), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3) Idaho (4), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Kentucky (8), Maine (3), Maryland (3), Michigan (4), Minnesota (2), Nebraska (8), Nevada (1), New Mexico (5), New York (11), Ohio (20), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (8), Tennessee (1), Utah (17), Virginia (2), Washington (3), Wisconsin (42), and Wyoming (1).

Consumer Advice

FDA is working closely with CDC and the state of California. FDA has determined that the spinach implicated in the outbreak was grown in three counties, Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara, in California. Spinach grown in the rest of the United States has not been implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The public can be confident that spinach grown in the non-implicated areas can be consumed. Other produce grown in these counties is not implicated in this outbreak. Processed spinach (e.g., frozen and canned spinach) is also not implicated in this outbreak. Industry is working to get spinach from areas not implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak back on the market. Investigators from FDA, CDC and the state of California are working to narrow the area implicated in the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak further.

Laboratory Findings

The New Mexico Department of Health announced on September 20 that it had linked a sample from a package of spinach with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157. The spinach was eaten by one of New Mexico's patients before becoming sick. DNA fingerprinting tests determined that the strain from the spinach matches the strain from patients in the outbreak. The package of spinach that tested positive was "Dole Baby Spinach, Best if Used by August 30."

Three (3) Recalls

On September 19, 2006, RLB Food Distributors, L.P., West Caldwell, NJ, initiated a voluntary recall of certain salad products that may contain spinach with an ‘Enjoy Thru’ date of 9/20/06. See: http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/rlb09_06.html. The products recalled by RLB are: Balducci's Mesclun Mix 5 oz., Balducci's Organic Baby Spinach 5 oz., Balducci's Mixed Greens 5 oz., FreshPro Mesclun Mix 5 oz., FreshPro Organic Baby Spinach 5 oz., FreshPro Mixed Greens 5 oz., FreshPro Salad Mix with Italian Dressing 4.75 oz., and FreshPro Salad Mix with Ranch Dressing 5.25 oz.

On September 17, 2006, River Ranch, of Salinas, California, announced a voluntary recall of packages of spring mix containing spinach. River Ranch obtained bulk spring mix containing spinach from Natural Selections. The following brands are involved: Fresh N' Easy Spring Mix and Hy-Vee Spring mix containing baby spinach, distributed to retailers in Texas, Iowa, New Mexico, Georgia and Ohio. Product was packed in 5 oz. bags and 5 oz. plastic trays. Products that do not contain spinach are not part of this recall.

On September 15, 2006, Natural Selection Foods, LLC, of San Juan Bautista, California, announced a voluntary recall of all products containing spinach in all brands they pack with "Best if Used by Dates" of August 17, 2006 through October 1, 2006. These products include spinach and any salad with spinach in a blend, both retail and food service products. Products that do not contain spinach are not part of this recall.

Natural Selection Foods, LLC brands include: Natural Selection Foods, Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, Dole, Rave Spinach, Emeril, Sysco, O Organic, Fresh Point, River Ranch, Superior, Nature's Basket, Pro-Mark, Compliments, Trader Joe's, Ready Pac, Jansal Valley, Cheney Brothers, D'Arrigo Brothers, Green Harvest, Mann, Mills Family Farm, Premium Fresh, Snoboy, The Farmer's Market, Tanimura & Antle, President's Choice, Cross Valley, and Riverside Farms.

The affected products were also distributed to Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Iceland. No illnesses have been reported from these countries. FDA continues to investigate whether other companies and brands are involved.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 Illness

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.

Lettuce Safety Initiative

The FDA developed the Lettuce Safety Initiative www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/lettsafe.html in response to recurring outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 in lettuce. As a result of this outbreak, the initiative has been expanded to cover spinach. The primary goals of the initiative are to reduce public health risks by focusing on the product, agents and areas of greatest concern and to alert consumers early and respond rapidly in the event of an outbreak. This initiative is based on the 2004 Produce Safety Action Plan, intended to minimize the incidence of food borne illness associated with the consumption of fresh produce.

FDA continues to work closely with the CDC and state and local agencies to determine the cause and scope of the E. coli outbreak in spinach. Please check www.fda.gov for updates.

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