According to the Center for Disease Control and "USA Today" the organism, E. coli, can be found on a small number of cattle farms and can live in the intestines of healthy cattle. If E. coli lives in the intestines than it can be spread through contamination by fecal material, and sometimes farmers, such as produce farmers, unknowingly use contaminated manure as fertilizer, which in turn contaminates produce like spinach.
According to the Food and Drug Administration the source of contamination has been linked to California and their have been two recalls. As of Sept. 17, 2006, River Ranch, of Salinas, Calif., 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 and New Mexico. Product was packed in 5 oz. bags and 5 oz. plastic trays. Products that do not contain spinach are not part of this recall.
Also on Sept. 15, 2006, Natural Selection Foods, LLC, of San Juan Bautista, Calif., announced a voluntary recall of all products containing spinach in all brands they pack with Best if Used by Dates of Aug. 17, 2006, through Oct. 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:
The affected products were also distributed to Canada, Mexico, and Taiwan. No illnesses have been reported from these countries. FDA continues to investigate whether other companies and brands are involved, and to keep updated with FDA on the issue of the E. coli outbreak visit www.fda.gov.
At the same time the Food and Drug Administration officials stress that the bacteria have not been isolated in products sold by Natural Selection Foods but that the connection was established by patient accounts of what they had eaten before becoming ill.