E-coli contamination in spinach

The friendliest place on the web for anyone that enjoys cooking.
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

subfuscpersona

Sous Chef
Joined
Aug 31, 2004
Messages
561
Many papers over the last week have carried stories about contamination of fresh spinach by E-coli. There have been recalls of fresh spinach and salad mix packaged in bags.

How can I tell if the spinach is safe to eat?
 

buckytom

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 19, 2004
Messages
21,933
Location
My mountain
the latest is that the contaminmated spinach came from salinas california. if you can find out where your spinach was grown, it should be safe if it wasn't from there.

hey honey, don't look now but you have e-coli in your teeth.
 

Gretchen

Washing Up
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
1,694
I think all spinach has been recalled at the moment. There really isn't any way to tell if it is safe. I think we are all stuck with omitting fresh spinach for a while unless it is very locally grown.
 

Dina

Executive Chef
Joined
May 25, 2004
Messages
2,685
Location
Mission, Texas
It has been recalled at our grocer. I looked for it, with no intention of buying it of course, and it was all gone from the produce section.
 

Half Baked

Executive Chef
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
2,927
There's no spinach in any of my stores. I'll just wait it out until the scientists decide that it's safe to eat. Doesn't freezing kill e.coli? Listeria are the bacteria that thrive in frozen foods, I believe?
 

marmalady

Executive Chef
Joined
Sep 3, 2004
Messages
2,642
Location
USA,SouthCarolina
I think this incident should serve as a wake-up call to everyone; it's not just about the spinach; but about everything we put in our mouths. It's just got to be washed, because you just don't ever know - all those 'baby greens' and 'baby arugula' salads that are supposed to be 'pre-washed'; wash 'em all!!!!

As for when the spinach is safe, you'll know when you see it back on the shelves and in the restaurants again.

I think the FDA/CDC whoever - should do regular 'spot' testing of all agriculture products before they hit the market shelves.
 

ChefJune

Master Chef
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
8,763
Location
Metro New York
I was reading an article in last weeks Nation's Restaurant News, and apparently it is more than just spinach. Contaminated lettuce was found in Ogden utah...also from Salinas CA.

Wash, wash, wash everything! and disinfect anything you find questionable... or just DON'T eat it!

unless you grew it yourself or know who grew it... :ohmy:
 

Gretchen

Washing Up
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
1,694
You cannot wash this strain of e.Coli off. It is a particularly pernicious sort of organism that is imbedded in the vegetables. So even if the people had washed it, it wouldn't have made any difference.
 

Gretchen

Washing Up
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
1,694
ChefJune said:
So, how do they think it got there -- if it's penetrated the fiber of the plants? :ohmy:

It is very tightly attached. And as yet, they don't know the source. Could have been animals in the field, irrigation water contamination. I have heard numerous reports of the processing plants literally being "torn apart" looking for a contamination site.

From a news source for verification:
Apparently, the E. coli is so tightly attached that even washing the spinach does not guarantee you will be protected, according to Robert Brackett, Director, Center for Food Safety and Nutrition.

Preliminary tests indicate the same bacterium is the cause of the outbreak in all the states affected so far. As the FDA is still not completely sure about the source of the outbreak it has made a nationwide warning.

As most spinach is harvested in California at this time of year, authorities have focussed there for the likely source.
 

cara

Master Chef
Joined
Aug 14, 2005
Messages
5,787
Location
Hannover, Germany
It seems to me as it comes from the water for the spinach... It may have been in the soil, but bacteria don't crawl upwards to the sun...

It depends on wich strain of E.coli it is, if only a "normal" heating will kill it, if it's one of the endotoxic strains like EHEC, VTEC or anything like that heating makes no sense, as it doesn't kill the toxin.
Freezing has no effect on the Colis, it's no problem for them to come back to life after beeing freezed... although the growing rate below 20°C is very very low and there is no metabolism below freezing point..
 

Gretchen

Washing Up
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
1,694
This is the e.Coli strain that is animal borne and heat does kill it. Your point about the ones that produce the toxins is very well taken. Heat may not inactivate those toxins. For this outbreak they just don't know yet what the source is/was. They have recovered another bag of the spinach however (today, I believe) and hope this will help pinpoint it further.
 

Michael in FtW

Master Chef
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 5, 2004
Messages
6,592
Location
Fort Worth, TX
So far - all of the infections and contamination have been identified as E. Coli strain O157:H7 - which comes primarily from feces. So far the source has been narrowed to Santa Clara, San Benito and Monterey counties in California. There was a scientist on one of the news programs yesterday that said that irrigation water might be the culprit since all 3 counties appear to be connected to a common irrigation water source according to her (all are adjacent and inline with each other). See map

Here is the FDA website which I am sure will be continually updated, and here is the latest news release 25 Sept 2006 (includes sources and brand names). If you do a little reading you will see this is not the first E. Coli problem from raw greens grown in California.
 

kitchenelf

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Messages
19,722
Location
North Carolina
middie - I will try to stay far, far away from those places it has linked back to. I make pizza with a mix of fresh spinach and arugula as a layer and I miss it!!!! :(

I said "try" to stay far, far away - I WILL stay far, far away! lol

Thanks for the reminder about washing.
 

Michael in FtW

Master Chef
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Sep 5, 2004
Messages
6,592
Location
Fort Worth, TX
In these "troubled times" - I would go with frozen spinach. It is "blanched" for about 3-minutes at a temp above the "kill point" for E. Coli (165º-F). Besides, since it seems that all fresh spinach is being pulled from the shelves - that's about your best alternative ... sure beats canned spinach!
 

Gretchen

Washing Up
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
1,694
And they say they may never know the source of this outbreak for absolute certain. Spinach from other areas than these counties has been cleared. The plant that processed it has been cleared of responsibility but I would bet that its reputation is still attached to the outbreak. Too bad.
 

Latest posts

Top Bottom