The E. coli in spinach food scare earlier this year was the number one food-related news story in the US in 2006, according to a survey conducted by Hunter Public Relations.

The company contacted 1,200 food editors across the US in researching the survey.

E. coli traced to farmed spinach from California's Salinas Valley killed three people and infected more than 200 in 26 states. However, interestingly when asked if they believed the recent rash of food scares in the US will motivate people to shop at green markets, 63% of the respondents said no.

The second most popular story this year, according to the survey, was the controversy over the sale of soft drinks in schools. In response to the growing threat of lawsuits and state legislation, the country's top three soft drinks companies announced that they would remove sweetened carbonated soft drinks and iced teas, from school cafeterias and vending machines.

The growing popularity of organic food was the third most popular food news item in 2006.