It was reported Monday that The FDA linked a California company's fresh spinach to the outbreak, which has killed one person and sickened at least 108 others. Investigators are working to pinpoint the source of the bacteria. Possible sources include contaminated irrigation water, known to be a problem in the state's Salinas Valley, a major produce-growing area.
"At this time we have no evidence supporting tampering," FDA spokeswoman Susan Bro said.
From the time spinach leaves first poke out of the ground, the greatest threat comes from human and animal waste, the most common sources of E. coli.
Food health experts say the germ can be spread a multitude of ways — by manure, by contaminated irrigation water, by farmhands relieving themselves in the field, by inadequate washing by processors, by insufficient refrigeration that promotes the growth of bacteria in sealed bags of salad greens.
>Leafy vegetables are the second leading source of E. coli infections in the United States, behind ground beef, but the government relies primarily on voluntary safety steps by farmers and packagers to prevent outbreaks.
>A FDA spokesperson dismissed a claim by Natural Selection Foods LLC, the country's largest grower of organic produce, that its organic spinach products had been cleared of suspicion. "The FDA has not cleared any products from the list and continues to recommend consumers avoid eating fresh spinach products," Bro said.
>Some 34 separate brands of bagged spinach are packed by Natural Selection, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports. Its variety of labels can be found in every major city and 74 percent of America's supermarkets.
>Meanwhile, a Glenview, Ill., restaurant sued the California food company Monday, 양산출장안마 seeking compensation for spinach — infected or not — that had to be discarded, the Chicago Tribune report
/>Some consumer groups believe the government should do more to regulate farming and packaging, including the quality of water used for irrigation, the application of manure and sanitary facilities used by worker
/>"The safeguards are not in place to protect fruits and vegetables in the same way that they are for beef and poultry," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food-safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interes
/>Foodborne illnesses in the United States cost about $7 billion annually, including medical expenses and productivity losses from missed work, according to estimates from the federal governmen
/>The U.S. food supply is governed by a complex system administered by 15 agencies. Lawmakers in past years have introduced legislation to make one agency responsible for food safet
/>Federal officials have also raised concerns that the food supply is vulnerable to contamination by terrorists. Just before leaving office in December 2004, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said he worries "every single night" about a possible terror attack on the food supply.