Thursday, September 21, 2006

Search for E.coli source is narrowed

Government investigators have narrowed their search for the source of the spinach blamed for the outbreak of E.coli. A bag of contaminated Dole baby spinach was found at the home of a person who was ill. It was bagged by Natural Selection Foods, a "a San Juan Bautista company that packages salad greens sold under dozens of brands." The investigators believe the spinach came from at least one of nine farms and several processing plants in California's Monterey, San Benito or Santa Clara counties.

E. coli is often spread by human or animal waste. Inspectors have been looking at the possibility that the germ was spread by contaminated irrigation water, workers relieving themselves in the fields, or some other means.

The California produce growers and processors are working on new guidelines for safety measures for food. When the FDA approves the measures, consumers may see a price reduction in food to stimulate the sell of spinach again.

"The thing that is more fragile than this product is consumer confidence, the trust that consumers have in our ability as farmers, processors, retailers and restaurant operators," Silbermann said. "That's what we've got to focus on.
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