Update from the FDA (as of Sept 25th): “One hundred seventy five cases of illness due to E. coli O157:H7 infection have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 28 cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), 93 hospitalizations and one death. Twenty five states have been impacted.” Read on for more information about the recent spinach contamination and the nation’s food supply……
Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 Illness causes diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Most healthy adults can recover within a week, some people can develop HUS, a form of kidney failure. It is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to kidney damage and even death.
According to the FDA, it has been determined that the spinach implicated in the outbreak was grown in three California counties: Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara. 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 can be eaten and is not implicated in the outbreak.Processed spinach (frozen and canned) is also not implicated in this outbreak.
Supermarket News reports that fresh spinach may be back on the shelves this week according to industry sources. A spokesperson for the Produce Marketing Association says,”we are not expecting a race back to the market (for spinach) but we are encouraged it is being put back onto the grocery shelves. “
Consumers are advised not to purchase or consume fresh spinach if they cannot verify that it was grown in areas other than the three California counties implicated in the outbreak. ~
There have been several recalls of food products made with spinach supplied by Natural Selection Foods. Pacific Coast Fruit Company is not using this company’s fresh California spinach at this time.
Many of it’s products have been pulled from the market including: Baby Spring Mix Salad Kit (4.6 lbs), Chef on the Run- Bacon Spinach Salad (9 oz. plus 2 fl. oz. dressing), Chef on the Run – Spring Greens Salad (5 oz. plus 2 fl. oz. dressing), Chef on the Run – Willamette Valley Salad (10 oz. plus 2 fl. oz. dressing),Trader Joe’s – Baby Spinach and Greens with Bleu Cheese, Candied Pecans and Cranberries with Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (10 oz.), Trader Joe’s – Baby Greens and Spinach Salad with Wild Maine Blueberry Dressing (10 oz.), Mediterranean Veggie Blend Kit – 15 lbs, and My Brothers Pizza Spinach and Garlic – 15 oz. and 36 oz.
Other brands for Natural Selection Foods include: Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, Dole Baby Spinach, 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 FDA developed a ‘Lettuce Safety Initiative in response to outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 in lettuce. Now this initiative has been expanded to include spinach. The goal is to reduce the public health risk (based on the 2004 Produce Safety Action Plan) by focusing on the product and alerting consumers quickly if there is an outbreak. A New Food Safety Administration ~
According to USA TODAY, some Washington DC lawmakers would like to form a single government agency that would be responsible for the safety of the nation’s food supply. The ‘Food Safety Administration’ would be responsible for ‘preventing, tracking and containing outbreaks’ like the recent E. coli outbreak in bagged spinach. The job currently handled by 12 federal agencies and subagencies.
The legislation (the Safe Food Act of 2005) remains in congressional committees since its introduction by Senator Dick Durbin, D.-Ill. and in the House by Representative Rose DeLauro, -D-Conn. DeLauro requested a hearing before House Energy and Commerce Committee before the current session of Congress adjourns on October 6th. Durbin has also requested a hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.
According to the CDC, contaminated foods kill about 5,000 Americans a year and sickens an additional 76 million people. The USDA has oversight for meat, poultry and eggs. Many advances in safety have been made in the meat industry. In 2003, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, showed that triple the number of people were sickened by produce than by beef.
The FDA’s David Acheson isn’t sure if a single agency is the way to go but he noted that his agency works very cooperatively with the USDA, “sharing information and talking a lot.”
AYE FOR SPINACH! ~
Spinach is an extremely healthy food. The BBC has just reported that researchers at the University of Manchester found that the vegetable may protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration, because it contains lutein, a chemical that combines with another chemical called zeaxanthin to form a key protective macular pigment.
Eating spinach may help to ward off AMD, the leading cause of blindness in western society. The Manchester researchers are launching a study on early-stage patients with AMD to test the theory and determine whether premature visual impairment is linked to low levels of macular pigment.
Macular degeneration is caused by degeneration of the macula, a tiny area of the retina that is responsible for seeing details and color in the central field of vision. The disease is linked to smoking, obesity, poor diet and and the damaging effect of blue light on the retina.”
Lead researcher Dr Ian Murray remarked, “Our work has already found strong evidence to suggest that macular pigment provides some protection against AMD, but we want to discover whether eating vegetables rich in these chemicals will have a direct impact on the disease.”
Lutein is also found in sweet corn, kale and broccoli.
For updates from the FDA, go to www.fda.gov. Spinach-Pear Salad with Pecans ~Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon minced shallots
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 cups fresh spinach leaves, rinsed in cool water, well dried
2 Bosc pears, cored, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped, toasted pecansPrepare Vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and shallots together. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Set aside.
Arrange spinach on six chilled salad plates. Scatter equal portions of pear slices and cranberries over each salad. Drizzle each portion with some of the vinaigrette then garnish with pecans.Serves six.
Variations: Salad ingredients may be combined in a large bowl and tossed with the dressing, if desired. Seedless orange segments can be substituted for the pear slices.Read Allison Askins’ food article in the State Newspaper today.