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FDA Warns on Bagged Spinach

Warning Due to 1 Death and Multiple Hospitalizations in E. coli Outbreak
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 15, 2006 --The FDA is advising consumers not to eat bagged, fresh spinach while it probes a multistate outbreak of E. coli which has reportedly killed one person and sickened 50 others.

Those numbers were reported to the CDC, according to an FDA news release. The Associated Press reports that Wisconsin is where the death occurred and where 20 fell ill, including 11 in Milwaukee.

The FDA is investigating the outbreak, which has been seen in at least 20 states: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Preliminary evidence suggests that bagged fresh spinach may be a possible cause of the outbreak, says the FDA.

Based on its current information, the FDA is advising consumers not to eat bagged fresh spinach at this time and to call a doctor if they believe they may have gotten sick after eating bagged spinach.

FDA's Comments

"Given the severity of this illness and the seriousness of the outbreak, the FDA believes that a warning to consumers is needed," says the FDA's Robert Brackett, PhD, in a news release.

Brackett directs the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

"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," Brackett says.

About the Outbreak

The outbreak involves E. coli 0157:H7, a strain of the E. coli bacterium which 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. It can lead to serious kidney damage and death.

HUS killed one person and sickened eight others in the current E. coli outbreak, says the FDA.

The FDA says it will update consumers on the investigation as more information becomes available.

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