E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with lettuce or spinach, specifically “pre-washed” and “ready-to-eat” varieties, are by no means a new phenomenon. By way of illustration:

– in October 2003, thirteen residents of a California retirement home were sickened, and two people died, after eating E. coli-contaminated, pre-washed spinach;

– in September 2003, nearly forty patrons of a California restaurant chain fell ill after eating salads prepared with bagged, pre-washed lettuce; and

 – in July 2002, over fifty young women fell ill with E. coli O157:H7 at a dance camp after eating “pre-washed” lettuce, leaving several hospitalized and one with life-long kidney damage.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Aug. 1993–E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to a salad bar; 53 reported cases in Washington State
  • July 1995 Lettuce (leafy green; red; romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 70 reported cases in Montana
  • Sept. 1995 Lettuce (romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 20 reported cases in Idaho
  • Sept. 1995 Lettuce (iceberg) E. coli O157:H7; 30 reported cases in Maine
  • Oct. 1995 Lettuce (iceberg; unconfirmed) E. coli O157:H7; 11 reported cases in Ohio
  • May-June 1996 Lettuce (mesclun; red leaf) E. coli O157:H7; 61 reported cases in Connecticut, Illinois, and New York
  • May 1998 Salad E. coli O157:H7; two reported cases in California
  • Feb.-Mar. 1999 Lettuce (iceberg) E. coli O157:H7; 72 reported cases in Nebraska
  • July-Aug. 2002 Lettuce (romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 29 reported cases in Washington and Idaho
  • Oct. 2003-May 2004 Lettuce (mixed salad) E. coli O157:H7; 57 reported cases in California
  • Apr. 2004 Spinach E. coli O157:H7; 16 reported cases in California
  • Sep. 2005 Lettuce (romaine) E. coli O157:H7; 32 reported cases in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Oregon

But we all know that the list does not end there.  E. coli O21:H19 nearly killed two women at a Wendy’s in Utah.  Who can forget the September 2006 outbreak associated with Dole Baby Spinach?  Click here to see how the Spinach outbreak unfolded, and what all the epidemiological and other scientific evidence revealed.  Also Taco Bell and Taco John’s in late 2006.  2008 saw E. coli outbreaks linked to lettuce in Michigan and the State of Washington – Spinach too in Oregon.  And, there have been may others sickened in produce-related outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and other dangerous bugs.