September 18, 2006

Which Spinach is Safe?

Bagged spinach has become a staple of many Americans' diets - it's healthy, it's convenient, and heck, if it's good enough for Popeye, it's good enough for you, right? But with news of a recall on bagged spinach due to recent outbreaks of E. coli in more than 19 states, Really Natural reader Kelly from Cambridge, MA wrote in to ask whether any spinach is safe to eat.

"I buy organic spinach to feed (my 17-month-old daughter).... I've been debating about whether or not to throw it away."

The FDA has spoken: Throw it away, Kelly. Throw it away.

In a news release issued Sunday, the message couldn't have been any clearer:

"FDA advises consumers to not eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products until further notice. If individuals believe they may have experienced symptoms of illness after consuming fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products, FDA recommends that they seek medical advice."

The contaminated spinach has been traced to Natural Selection Foods, a grower of organic and non-organic spinach found in numerous supermarket brands, including Dole, Natural Selection Foods, Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, 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, Coastline, D’Arrigo Brothers, Green Harvest, Mann, Mills Family Farm, Premium Fresh, Snoboy, The Farmer’s Market, Tanimura & Antle, President’s Choice, Cross Valley, Riverside Farms.

Reports indicate that the E. coli may be linked to the irrigation system used by the San Juan Bautista farm. Several reports have indicated that only bagged spinach is at risk, and there seems to be some question about whether spinach from other sources could be at risk. One local farmer's market has declared on their website that their spinach is grown in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and therefore not at risk.

That may be the case. You probably won't get sick eating fresh, unpackaged spinach if you know exactly where it came from and how it was grown. But until the FDA amends its recommendations, we'd say play it safe. Whole Foods Market issued a statement saying they've removed all fresh loose or packaged spinach from their stores "until we learn that there is no longer a health concern."

We'd recommend that Really Natural readers do the same.

Read More in: Food | Health | Organic Food News

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Posted by Jess Brooks at September 18, 2006 11:00 AM

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