Graham Johnson of KIRO 7 Eyewitness News in Seattle did a great overview in the problems on E. coli in our spinach tonight. The full transcript is here.
Investigators have now traced the source of the outbreak to cow manure on a ranch near Natural Selection foods. They think wild pigs might have carried E. coli to the spinach fields.
Federal investigators confirm the outbreak killed three people (actually four) and made 204 sick.
Seattle attorney Bill Marler represents nearly a hundred E. coli victims. So far, he’s filed eight lawsuits.
“Right now I have questions about whether the product is safe, both spinach and lettuce,” Marler said.
Marler says in the Salinas Valley, cow manure is too close to produce fields.
And when there’s an outbreak, Marler says these bags spread contamination more quickly. That’s because a small amount of contaminated produce is split up into countless bags and sent all over the country.
“Part of what the industry needs to look at is whether how they’re selling it to us is inherently a problem. Is the convenience, in a sense, worth the risk?
Mansour Samadpour (one of the smartest guys on the planet) — an E. coli expert in Lake Forest Park — sees it differently.
“We have the safest food supply on the planet,” said Samadpour, of IEH Laboratories.
After the outbreak in spinach, the affected companies hired him to detect and prevent E. coli.
“This was an anomaly. Something happened at the farm level. And there have been a lot of extra steps these companies are taking to make sure this product is safe.”
Samandpour says Natural Selection foods now takes the unprecedented step of testing all its raw materials before they’re processed.
He says safety is now rapidly improving.
“These are watershed events in food safety – this is when the industry realizes there may be a problem they did not anticipate before.”
But Samandpour admits most companies don’t ask for his expertise until after an outbreak.
Too bad companies do not listen to Dr. Samandpour until it is too late.