If you have bagged spinach, do not open it. Throw it away.
WASHINGTON – Even if you wash the spinach, you still could be at risk.
Sober warnings for salad lovers came from federal health officials Friday as they struggled to pinpoint a multistate E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened nearly 100 more.
Bagged spinach — the triple-washed, cello-packed kind sold by the hundreds of millions of pounds each year — is the suspected source of the bacterial outbreak, Food and Drug Administration officials said.
The FDA warned people nationwide not to eat the spinach. Washing won’t get rid of the tenacious bug, though thorough cooking can kill it. Supermarkets across the country pulled spinach from shelves, and consumers tossed out the leafy green.
“We’re waiting for the all-clear. In the meantime, Popeye the Sailor Man and this family will not be eating bagged spinach” said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University. The Tennessee university’s medical center was treating a 17-year-old Kentucky girl for E. coli infection.
By Friday, the outbreak had grown to include at least 20 states: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wisconsin accounted for 29 illnesses, about one-third of the cases, including the lone death.
Back in April, Dole Foods issued a voluntary recall for a couple of their bagged salad brands due a small outbreak of E. coli.
I’m not a big bagged salad fan, because – with only a couple of exceptions – they’ve never tasted very good. This is one more reason to stick make my own salad, rather than buy a bagged one.