SpinachA national outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 linked to the consumption of bagged spinach sickened hundreds of people and killed three in 2006. The outbreak investigation focused on pre-packaged spinach that was grown on a California ranch, processed and packaged by Natural Selection Foods, LLC in San Juan Bautista, CA, and sold under the Dole brand Baby Spinach.

As one of the leading food safety law firms in the United States, we were contacted by a number of outbreak victims including the family of the outbreak’s first fatality, a Wisconsin woman in her seventies. The woman was survived by three adult children and two grandchildren. The case was resolved for an undisclosed settlement sum following lengthy negotiations with the defendants and their carriers.

According to lead attorney, Fred Pritzker, the case was noteworthy for many reasons:

  • First, it was a very large and serious outbreak both in terms of the numbers of victims and the geographic spread of the cases.
  • Second, it was one of a large number of outbreaks traced back to pre-packaged produce grown in California’s Salinas Valley.
  • Third, and most importantly, it points to the lack of food safety and regulation involving leafy greens grown in this area and the need for much tighter standards and regulations to prevent these outbreaks from happening.

According to Fred Pritzker, “the problem with the contamination of leafy greens is severe because of the perfect storm of microbiological factors that allow these outbreaks to continue to happen. Too much food is grown in too close proximity to cattle production areas and feces-laden water. Pre-packaging the produce serves to lock in and mix the deadly pathogens and allows them to spread across the country, infecting people thousands of miles away from the source of production. Worse, government regulation of the produce industry is on par with the way the meat industry was regulated in the 1920s. Much needs to be done. I am afraid these outbreaks will continue to occur.”

To contact Fred Pritzker about an E. coli lawsuit, please call toll-free at 1-888-377-8900.