I spoke with Larry Parsons of the Monterey Herald about the status of the settlements of the victims of the 2006 Spinach cases and the status of the safety of the leafy green industry. So far, we have settled 56 of the 72 cases of people we represent. As you recall, the E. coli-tainted spinach was blamed for at least four deaths and sickening 205 people. The outbreak was traced back to Central Coast spinach grown by Mission Organics on a San Benito County ranch that was processed by Natural Selection Foods in San Juan Bautista and packaged for Dole. The settlements involved all three companies. As Mr. Parsons wrote:
Negotiations are scheduled to start in February in 16 more cases, the majority of which involve persons who suffered very serious health effects from the E. coli-tainted spinach. Marler wouldn’t disclose settlement amounts, saying they are confidential.
Marler said it’s too early to tell if the industry-supported marketing agreement will be enough to prevent future outbreaks. "My hope is the spinach and lettuce industry heard the message …and keep vigilant," he said. "Hopefully that’s what they have done, and we won’t see something like this again," he said.
One hopes that the industry has learned form past mistakes and takes to heart the illnesses that have been caused by the inattention to the details of food safety. See my interview with the Health Inspectors: