Federal health officials are warning people not to eat bagged fresh spinach after an outbreak of E. coli in eight states has left at least one person dead and 50 others sick.

The death occurred in Wisconsin. The cases of people getting sick were reported in Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.

FDA officials say they do not know the source of the outbreak, other than it appears to be linked to bagged spinach. Epidemiologists in the Oregon Department of Human Services and in Wisconsin have traced the illness to packaged, washed spinach, although they so far have been unable to identify whether the contamination is confined to a single brand.

ODHS has notified the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is working with the affected states, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Public health officials cite these as primary protections against E. coli O157 infection:

  • Thoroughly cook ground beef and hamburger.
  • Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash hands, counters and utensils with hot soapy water after exposure to raw meat.
  • Drink only pasteurized milk, juice or cider.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially those that will not be cooked.
  • Always wash hands after using the toilet.