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September 21, 2006

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


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

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.

Case Reports

To date, 157 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), 83 hospitalizations, and one death. Illnesses continue to be reported to CDC. This is considered to be an ongoing investigation.

States Affected

The 23 affected states are: Arizona (4), California (1), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3) Idaho (4), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Kentucky (7), Maine (2), Michigan (4), Minnesota (2), Nebraska (8), Nevada (1), New Mexico (5), New York (11), Ohio (20), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (7), Utah (17), Virginia (1), Washington (3), Wisconsin (41), and Wyoming (1).

Consumer Advice

The FDA, in working closely with the CDC and the State of California, has determined that the spinach implicated in the outbreak was grown in the following California counties: Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Clara.

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.

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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