9/19/06: An outbreak of E. Coli O157:H7 has been linked to bagged fresh spinach. The contamination could be caused by manufacturing errors.

A recent nationwide outbreak of E. Coli has been linked to contaminated spinach. There have been over 100 reported cases of illness, and nearly 20 people are gravely ill or dead as a result.  The fresh bagged spinach was manufactured in California, and could have been contaminated by errors on the farm or during packaging.

The spinach is sold in plastic bags where the produce is precut and prewashed.  Approximately two thirds of the spinach sold in the U.S. is grown and packaged in California.  The bacteria has been identified as E. coli O157:H7, which is a strand commonly linked to food poisoning and often seen in U.S. outbreaks involving hamburger meat.

The FDA has identified at least two organic produce companies in California as the packagers of the contaminated spinach.  Products sold under the following brands may be contaminated:  Dole, Trader Joe’s, Earthbound Farm, Green Harvest, Natural Selection, Ready Pac, Rave Spinach, Farmer’s Market, Hy Vee and Fresh & Easy.

As a result of the contamination, the FDA has recommended that people not eat any bagged fresh spinach.  The exact source of the contamination has not yet been identified, but it appears to be linked to a mistake during the packaging or growing of the spinach.  Grocery stores across the country have removed spinach from their shelves and restaurants have removed spinach from their menus as the FDA works to confirm the exact cause of the outbreak.


As a result of E. coli bacterial infection, most healthy adults affected suffer severe diarrhea and recover within a few days.  However, approximately 10% of those who are affected by the strand of E. coli O157:H7 suffer more serious problems associated with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS).  This condition is associated with kidney failure and could be fatal.  Children, elderly and those with weak immune systems are more prone to HUS.

E. Coli O157:H7 is typically linked to animal intestinal waste and contamination is usually caused by improper handling on the farm or by mistakes during the packaging.  Although it could also be caused by the failure of retail stores to remove older products from the shelves, given the wide spread outbreak, the problem appears to point to the manufacturers.  Experts have indicated that it is possible that manure was used as a fertilizer for the produce, which would not be within the proper standard of agricultural care.


Lawsuits have already been filed in connection with the outbreak by customers who suffered injuries as a result of the E. coli contaminated spinach.  The E Coli Lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk are currently investigating and reviewing claims for individuals who have suffered kidney damage or other serious injuries as a result of E. Coli food poisoning after eating fresh bagged spinach.

If you, a friend or family member have been diagnosed with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) as a result of E. coli, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.