Tuesday, September 19, 2006
SPINACH -- SPINACH -- SPINACH
Yesterday, I spoke with the Director of the LaSalle County Health Department, an official with Lakeside Organics (where our spinach comes from) and checked the websites of the Center for Disease Control and ABC News.
What I found out was that Illinois was at that moment reporting its first case of E. coli. I also found out that the company found to have produced the contaminated spinach was Natural Selections, LLC in California. It just so happens that this company has a “commercial side” and an “organic side”. This does NOT mean that products are co-mingled; in fact, it means quite the opposite. Organic products cannot be processed at commercial facilities. The commercial side of Natural Selections is the place that the contaminated spinach originated from. The organic side, named “Earthbound Organics” has been cleared of any suspicion.
The spinach the Timber Creek delivers to you is from Lakeside Organics – also in California. I spoke with them and asked them if the FDA or any other government agency had asked them to stop harvesting or to stop shipping their spinach. The said “NO”. So it appears that the government investigators have done their job, and the worry is over. The CDC isn’t quite that optimistic, however, so I have reproduced their latest announcement later in this post. And because the “all clear” has not been sounded by the government, Timber Creek has decided to pull all spinach from our deliveries until further notice.
What we know so far as of 9/18/06 from the Centers for Disease Control website:
As of 1 PM (ET) September 18, 2006, Monday, 114 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported to CDC from 21 states.
Among the ill persons, 60 (53%) were hospitalized, 18 (16%) developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), and an adult in Wisconsin died. Eighty-five (75%) were female and 6 (5%) were children under 5 years old. Among ill persons who provided the date when their illnesses began, 92% became ill between August 19 and September 5.
The states that have reported cases are California (1 case), Connecticut (2), Idaho (4), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Kentucky (6), Maine (2), Michigan (4), Minnesota (2), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), Nevada (1), New York (7), Ohio (10), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (4), Utah (15), Virginia (1), Washington (2), Wisconsin (32), and Wyoming (1).
CDC Advice for Consumers
The following is advice for consumers about this outbreak:
• Currently, we are advising consumers to not eat any fresh spinach or salad blends containing fresh spinach that are consumed raw.
• E. coli O157:H7 in spinach can be killed by cooking at 160° Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. (Water boils at 212° Fahrenheit.) If spinach is cooked in a frying pan, and all parts do not reach 160° Fahrenheit, all bacteria may not be killed. If consumers choose to cook the spinach, they should not allow the raw spinach to contaminate other foods and food contact surfaces, and they should wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling the spinach.
• Persons who develop diarrhea after consuming fresh spinach or salad blends containing fresh spinach are urged to contact their health care provider and ask that their stool specimen be tested for E. coli O157.
• Persons who ate fresh spinach or salad blends and feel well do not need to see a health-care provider.