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Food Poisoning Health Center

FDA Narrows Spinach Warning

FDA: Spinach in E. coli Outbreak Linked to Natural Selection Foods
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Q. Do most infected people develop hemolytic uremic syndrome?

A. No. An estimated 2% to 7% of infections lead to this complication, according to the CDC's web site.

Q. For people who want to try other greens, what are some alternatives?

A. If you're looking for fresh greens, try lettuces such as radicchio, escarole, and romaine. Arugula, collard greens, mustard greens, and kale are other options, say Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, and Lola O'Rourke, RD, spokeswomen for the American Dietetic Association.

"We don't want people to stop eating fresh fruits and vegetables, because they're so important for good health," says Jamieson-Petonic. "They're wonderful sources of vitamins and minerals."

Jamieson-Petonic manages the Fairview Hospital Wellness Center in Rocky River, Ohio, near Cleveland.

Q. Should we worry about frozen spinach, canned spinach, or spinach baby food?

A. No.

At this time, the FDA has no evidence that frozen spinach, canned spinach, or spinach in pre-made meals manufactured by food companies are affected. These products are safe to eat, according to the FDA.

"Frozen spinach is normally blanched with hot water or steamed prior to being frozen, which should be effective for destroying E. coli," Linton explains.

"The thermal process given for all low-acid foods, including baby food and canned spinach, is done at 230 [degrees Fahrenheit] or higher, where E. coli will be destroyed. E. coli is destroyed at 160-165 [degrees Fahrenheit]," Linton says.

Q. Does cooking kill E. coli in spinach?

A. E. coli O157:H7 in spinach can be killed by cooking at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds.

If consumers choose to cook fresh spinach, they should follow these cooking instructions and also take steps to avoid cross-contamination between the fresh spinach and other food or food- contact surfaces. They should wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh spinach.

Q. What does the FDA recommend doing with recalled fresh spinach products?

A. The FDA recommends that the recalled fresh spinach products be thrown away.

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