E.coli update: Feds helping investigate E. coli outbreak

217

No cases in San Benito County
By JUSTIN M. NORTON
Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
– Federal agents from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention intervened this weekend to help investigate an E. coli
outbreak tied to tainted spinach.
No cases in San Benito County

By JUSTIN M. NORTON

Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Federal agents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intervened this weekend to help investigate an E. coli outbreak tied to tainted spinach.

There have been no confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 in San Benito County and none are under investigation at this time, according to the San Benito County Health Department.

The greens, which appear to be grown by the world’s largest producer of organic produce, have sickened 102 people, including the death of a 77-year-old woman, according to health officials.

CDC officials said Sunday they’ve started an Atlanta-based emergency operations center to help state health agencies with E. coli testing. Epidemiologists are helping test spinach samples and stool samples of those who have been infected, center spokeswoman Lola Russell said.

The center is helping when state health agencies can’t perform the tests or when a second opinion is needed, Russell said.

E. coli cases linked to tainted spinach have been reported in 19 states, with a majority of cases in Wisconsin.

Other states reporting cases were California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming, according to the CDC.

Connecticut health officials have reported two cases of E. coli in the state, with one person having recovered and another continuing to recover.

A spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, has said the two cases match the strain of E. coli found in other parts of the country, but he wasn’t sure whether they are associated with the outbreak. State officials are investigating.

The Food and Drug Administration continued to warn consumers not to eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products until further notice.

Natural Selection Foods LLC recalled its packaged spinach throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico as a precaution after federal health officials said some of those hospitalized reported eating brands of prepackaged spinach distributed by the company.

However, some restaurants and retailers may be taking spinach out of bags before selling it, so consumers shouldn’t buy it at all, the FDA said.

Boiling contaminated spinach can kill the bacteria but washing won’t eliminate it, the CDC warned.

“We’re still in the process of alerting people of the fact that they need to check the refrigerator,” Russell said.

The spinach could have been contaminated in the field or during processing. About 74 percent of the fresh market spinach grown in the U.S. comes from California, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

There have been previous bacterial contamination outbreaks linked to spinach and lettuce grown in the state.

Federal officials stressed that the bacteria had not been isolated in products sold by Natural Selection Foods, based in San Juan Bautista, Calif., and known for Earthbound Farm and other brands. As the investigation continues, other brands may be implicated, officials said.

Natural Selection officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday.

The company was founded in 1984 by Drew and Myra Goodman. Within two years, Earthbound Farm began shipping pre-washed, packaged salad fixings, and the company’s “spring mix” became a mainstay of restaurants and supermarkets.

___

On the Net:

Center for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov

Natural Selection Farms: www.ebfarm.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here