Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Information From Food Safety Expert and CDC About E. coli Outbreak and Fresh Produce

Sept. 15, 2006 -- The FDA is warning consumers not to eat bagged fresh spinach as it probes a multistate outbreak of E. coli linked to at least one death and scores of illnesses.

The warning currently applies to all bagged fresh spinach, regardless of whether it was conventionally or organically grown.

Here are three questions and answers about E. coli, based on information from the CDC:

Q. What is E. coli?

A. E. coli is a bacterium. There are hundreds of strains of E. coli. The strain involved in the current outbreak is E. coli 0157:H7.

Q. What are the health risks of E. coli 0157:H7?

This strain of E. coli can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Most adults recover fully in about a week.

But it can also lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which causes kidney failure. Young children and the elderly are at particular risk for this complication.

Q. How common are E. coli outbreaks?

This particular strain of E. coli causes an estimated 61 deaths and 73,000 cases of infection in the U.S. annually, according to the CDC.

Most past infections have been linked to undercooked ground beef.

Other culprits have been sprouts, lettuce, salami, unpasteurized milk and juice, and swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water, according to the CDC.

Perspective of a Food Safety Expert

WebMD also spoke with Richard H. Linton, PhD, a professor of food safety and director of the Center for Food Safety Engineering at Purdue University.

Following are eight questions about bagged fresh produce and Linton's answers.

Q. Should all bagged fresh produce be avoided?

A. No. We're just talking about spinach at this point in time.

Q. Should all bagged fresh produce be washed at home, even if it says "prewashed"?

A. I think there's a very minimal effect in what a consumer can do from a washing standpoint, other than what was done at a manufacturing facility.

Normally, these things are triple-washed at a manufacturing facility. We can recommend to consumers that they have an additional wash, but as a scientist, I can tell you the effect will be minimal.

Healthy Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

Top searches: Chicken, Chocolate, Salad, Desserts, Soup

Healthy Recipe Finder