The expanding E. coli spinach outbreak, which now has sickened 146 victims in 23 states, is prompting calls for an overhaul of how food inspection is done in the United States, with a focus on getting rid of a patchwork approach that leads to loopholes and leaves the industry mostly policing itself.
Mary Anne Ostrum, Lisa Kreiger and Ken McLaughlin of the San Jose Mercury News reported that demands from top consumer groups and others came as the federal Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that a bag of spinach found in the refrigerator of a sickened New Mexico resident definitively links the outbreak to Natural Selection Foods. The San Juan Bautista company has already recalled nearly three dozen brands of spinach that it processes.
Through codes on the bag, the FDA has traced the spinach back to a growing region encompassing Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara counties. Still, officials recommend that consumers avoid eating any fresh spinach products.