Spinach Thought to Be Source of E. coli Outbreak

Health officials say recently purchased raw, packaged spinach should not be eaten. It is the likely source of an E. coli bacteria outbreak that has killed one person, and made at least 49 other people sick. Cases have been reported in eight states, from Connecticut to Oregon.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Now this news for consumers. Spinach is usually good for you, but if you've got a bag of the fresh spinach at home, do not eat it. Health officials say raw packaged spinach is the likely source of an E. coli outbreak that has killed at least one person and made at least 49 others sick. Cases have been reported in eight states, from Connecticut to Oregon.

Officials don't know where the spinach is from or how widely it has been distributed. E. coli can cause a form of kidney failure that often leads to death. Most vulnerable are the very old and very young. So until further notice, don't eat your spinach.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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FDA Warning on Spinach E. coli Outbreak

Following is a statement by the Food and Drug Administration issued Thursday about an E. coli outbreak involving bagged fresh spinach.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is issuing an alert to consumers about an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in multiple states that may be associated with the consumption of produce. To date, preliminary epidemiological evidence suggests that bagged fresh spinach may be a possible cause of this outbreak.

Based on the current information, FDA advises that consumers not eat bagged fresh spinach at this time. Individuals who believe they may have experienced symptoms of illness after consuming bagged spinach are urged to contact their health care provider.

"Given the severity of this illness and the seriousness of the outbreak, FDA believes that a warning to consumers is needed. We are working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local agencies to determine the cause and scope of the problem," said Dr. Robert Brackett, Director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

E. coli O157:H7 causes diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death. To date, 50 cases of illness have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 8 cases of HUS and one death.

At this time, the investigation is ongoing and states that have reported illnesses to date include: Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.

FDA will keep consumers informed of the investigation as more information becomes available.

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