e. coli outbreak linked to tainted spinach packaged by organic food company

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2006-09-18 12:44

Natural Selection Foods, apparently the world's largest producer of organic foods, has recalled all of its packaged spinach products due to a link with an outbreak of E. coli in the United States.

Over 100 people have been sickened and a 77 year old woman has died from kidney failure.

The company has said that the product codes of the spinach that infected patients turned over to health officials were all from NON-ORGANIC spinach.

What can be read into the fact that the dangerous e. coli strain appeared to taint the non-organic spinach? Probably not too much.

I would have thought organic food production to be more at risk of e. coli contamination as it can be found in faeces. So the situation of infected pig manure being spread around organic veg is perhaps not too far-fetched? But then again I'd wager that raw sewerage, manure or faeces are not exactly allowed as an input into organic production!

So how would e. coli be introduced into an organic or a synthetic farming operation? I guess it is far more likely to be during picking or processing when exposed to an unhygenic source. i.e. a human who practises very poor hygene.

Anyway, I'm sure all will be revealed by the FDA in due course!

Reading Natural Selection Foods' official statement I was amazed at the number of spinach brands (31) produced by one food processing company. Cases of infection were reported in nineteen US states, so you get a sense of how one company can affect the health of thousands.

It is indeed ironic that a company committed to health food production can unwittingly bring unhealthy food to your table. And it makes me more then a little nervous as an avid consumer of spinach...