Cow PieFDA Statement on Foodborne E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Spinach

Positive Test Results

FDA and the State of California announced today that test results from the field investigation of the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in spinach are positive for E. coli O157:H7.  Samples of cattle feces on one of the implicated ranches tested positive based on matching genetic fingerprints for the same strain of E. coli that sickened 199 people.   The trace back investigation has narrowed to four implicated fields on four ranches.  The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 from cattle feces was identified on one of these four ranches.

Hopefully, no one will be surprised by this finding – testing of cattle finds E. coli O157:H7 in as much as 28% of ALL cattle depending on the time of year the test is run.  In my trip to Salinas last week, I was a bit shocked at how close (and how many) cows were to a “ready-to-eat” product like spinach and lettuce.