The Huffington Post today announced its list of the ten worst product recalls of all time. The food recalls include melamine-tainted milk, worm-infested chocolates, and of course the September 2006 E. coli O157:H7 (and other serotypes) outbreak linked to Dole baby spinach. The spinach outbreak was among the most devastating outbreaks ever to occur in this country.
2006 Spinach Outbreak: a short summary:
Official word of the spinach outbreak broke with the FDA’s announcement, on September 14, 2006, that a number of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses across the country “may be associated with the consumption of produce.” “Preliminary epidemiological evidence suggests,” the statement continued, “that bagged fresh spinach may be a possible cause of this outbreak.” By the date of the announcement, fifty cases had been reported to the CDC, including eight cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and one death. States reporting illness included Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin.
The much-publicized outbreak grew substantially over the next several days. By September 15, the FDA had confirmed 94 cases of illness, including fourteen cases of HUS and, sadly, one death. Recognizing the lethality of the developing outbreak, the FDA’s September 15 release warned people should “not eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach containing products.”