As the San Francisco Associated Press reported today, federal investigators trying to build a criminal case against two produce companies in the contaminated spinach outbreak are following a script first used a decade ago to prosecute a company whose E. coli-tainted apple juice killed a baby and sickened dozens of other people.

From the article:

"My hope is that this is the tipping point for the spinach and lettuce industry in California," Marler said. "It’s time for them to come to terms with what issues they need to deal with."

Federal officials do not think anyone deliberately contaminated the spinach with E. coli, which has killed two and sickened at least 193 others. Instead, the probe is focused on whether the companies took appropriate steps to make sure their products were OK to eat.

  • Phyllis Entis

    Several years ago, when driving through the San Joaquin Valley of California for the first time, I was struck by the juxtaposition of cattle feedlot operations, open irrigation canals and irrigated fields of crops. At that time, the first lettuce-related foodborne outbreaks had already taken place. It seemed clear to me that the annual winter rains could easily cause irrigation canals to become contaminated with runoff from the cattle feedlot operations, opening the door to additional produce-related outbreaks of foodborne disease.
    Phyllis Entis, MSc., SM(NRM)