The Wall Street Journal reports that federal regulators were investigating produce farming and packaging conditions in California’s Salinas Valley long before a company there was linked last week to a spinach-related E. coli outbreak. But their food-safety concerns extend beyond California to include farm areas in other states such as Arizona.
"We are bothered by what’s happening," said Robert E. Brackett, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "All it takes is contamination at one time and it’s distributed to many people, and it becomes amplified."
As of yesterday, 109 cases, including one fatality, had been reported from 19 states, said David Acheson, the center’s chief medical officer. Salinas Valley, dubbed "the world’s salad bowl," has received the most attention only because of its size, Dr. Brackett said. Since 1995, the area was linked to at least eight of 19 E. coli outbreaks related to fresh-cut lettuce or spinach. But none of those outbreaks has been traced back to a specific grower, he said.
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