On the third anniversary of the Dole Spinach E. coli outbreak, once again Lynne Terry of The Oregonian and Bill Keene super, senior epidemiologist, break yet another food poisoning story. This time, according to Ms. Terry, “[f]ederal and state health authorities are investigating a salmonella outbreak that peaked in Oregon in August.”

According to Dr. Keene, “[a]t least 124 were sickened across the country, with a clustering of cases in the West. In Oregon, seven people became sick between Aug. 4 to 16, including three in the Portland metro area. Two people got so sick they had to be hospitalized, and one had severe symptoms [a Marler Clark Client], Keene said.”

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration still do not know exactly what poisoned people, though shredded lettuce is a leading suspect, Keene said.

Question – where did lettuce come from?

Interestingly, Tanimura & Antle, Inc. of Salinas, California expanded the geographic scope of its voluntary recall of bulk and wrapped romaine head lettuce last week due to positive Salmonella tests.  The company extended the U.S. recall to all 50 states. The recall also included Puerto Rico and Canada.  Originally, the recall was issued after a random test conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture tested positive for Salmonella.  At the time of the recall no illnesses had been linked to the finding.  Romaine lettuce included in the recall was harvested June 25 – July 2. Shelf life of the product typically is 14 n 16 days.  At this point it is unclear if Tanimura & Antle is the source of this outbreak reported by Ms. Terry.

Or, perhaps it is not lettuce?

Muranaka Farm Inc. recalled 1,005 cases of parsley distributed in 10 states because it may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Frontera Produce of Edinburg, Texas recalled one lot of cilantro due to Salmonella.  The recalled cilantro was available at select store chains in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Louisiana and New Mexico.

And, what the hell is wrong with leafy greens?  Some examples:

August 1993 – E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to a salad bar; 53 reported cases in Washington State

July 1995 – Lettuce (leafy green; red; romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 70 reported cases in Montana
September 1995 – Lettuce (romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 20 reported cases in Idaho

September 1995 – Lettuce (iceberg) E. coli O157:H7; 30 reported cases in Maine

October 1995 – Lettuce (iceberg; unconfirmed) E. coli O157:H7; 11 reported cases in Ohio

May-June 1996 – Lettuce (mesclun; red leaf) E. coli O157:H7; 61 reported cases in Connecticut, Illinois, and New York

May 1998 – Salad E. coli O157:H7; two reported cases in California

February.-March 1999 – Lettuce (iceberg) E. coli O157:H7; 72 reported cases in Nebraska

July-August 2002 – Lettuce (romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 29 reported cases in Washington and Idaho

October 2003 – thirteen residents of a California retirement home were sickened, and two people died, after eating E. coli-contaminated, pre-washed spinach

October 2003-May 2004 – Lettuce (mixed salad) E. coli O157:H7; 57 reported cases in California

April 2004 – Spinach E. coli O157:H7; 16 reported cases in California

September 2005 – Lettuce (romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 32 reported cases in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oregon

November-December 2006 – Taco Bell and Taco Johns E. coli shredded lettuce sickened hundreds in Mid-west and East