As a result of the nationwide outbreak of E. coli the FBI and agents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have searched two spinach packaging companies in order to ascertain that food safety procedures were properly followed.
The San Juan Bautista plant of Natural Selection Foods and a Growers Express plant in Salinas are thought to be the source of an outbreak of E. coli bacterial infection which has sickened 193 people in the U.S. and Canada and is suspected in the death of at least one person.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one adult has died in Wisconsin, and the deaths of a child in Idaho and an adult in Maryland are being investigated in connection with the outbreak.
The CDC says to date, ninety-eight people have been hospitalized in the U.S. in connection with the outbreak, and 30 have developed a type of kidney failure known as hemolytic-uremic syndrome.
Seventy-one percent of those with confirmed cases of E. coli are women and girls, and 11 percent are children under 5 years old.
The FDA says deliberate contamination is not suspected but they are checking that allegations that some spinach growers and distributors may not have taken all necessary or appropriate steps to ensure that their spinach products were safe before they entered interstate food outlets.
The outbreak caused the FDA to issue a two-week consumer warning on fresh spinach and a number of products were recalled.
Natural Selection packages spinach sold under 34 brand names and supplies spinach to other food processors, and was first implicated in the E. coli outbreak after 11 bags of Dole brand baby spinach tested positive for the same bacteria strain found in people who feel ill after eating the leafy green vegetable.
On September 29 the FDA announced that spinach on store shelves was safe for consumption again after it had tracked the contaminated to products to Natural Selection.
So far five states, Wisconsin, Ohio, Utah, Indiana and New York have experienced almost 60 percent of the cases but in all twenty-six states have reported confirmed cases.
The Californian Department of Health is apparently conducting its own inquiry into the outbreak and say they have not found the source of the contamination.