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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation


FDA says spinach is safe!

I have thought about that statement over and over again during the last twenty-four hours – “spinach is safe.”  And, I guess lettuce is too? 

I know, I am being an alarmist, I am a trial lawyer trying to drum up more business, but am I? 

Let’s face facts – both lettuce and spinach has been implicated in hundreds of past illnesses and several deaths over the last ten years.  I have been in the middle of the last four

So, why is it safe to eat now?  What has the industry and the government done to assure moms and dads across this country that getting their kids to east spinach is good for them as opposed to a possible death sentence?  The answer is not a damn thing.

Look at the double-speak from the FDA at yesterday’s press conference when it was proclaimed that Popeye is really on the mend.  This is lifted from the Reuter’s coverage:

  • California’s food industry needs to address the issue and tougher regulations may be needed, but consumers can safely eat fresh spinach again, he IAcheson) told reporters in a telephone briefing.

  • FDA said serious concerns remained because so many outbreaks of food poisoning in fresh greens such as spinach and lettuce have been traced to California farms.

  • He (Acheson) said this was the 20th outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 in leafy greens in 10 years, and half had been traced to central California (Salinas).

  • "The FDA and the state of California have previously expressed serious concerns with continuing outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with the consumption of fresh and fresh-cut lettuce and other leafy greens," Acheson said.

  • "The spinach that is going to come on to the market next week or whenever is going to be as safe as it was before this outbreak," Acheson said. "But … there are some longer-term issues that need to be addressed."

  • "What it does is it raises concerns about what is going on in that environment," Acheson said.  ?For instance, cattle may need to be kept away from fields where food is grown, and physical barriers may have to be used, he said.  "Having cattle that may or may not be carrying 0157 that are uphill and upstream of a field that is growing a fresh product that is going to be consumed without cooking obviously raises concerns and questions," Acheson said.

Common sense seems to tell me that the government is simply wrong here.  I made a post early last week suggesting several methods to get customers back.

If spinach is “as safe as it was before the outbreak” and “food growers and processors will have to change some of their practices, although it is not yet clear which ones,” that tells me that nothing has changed, and if nothing has changed, why is spinach now safe?