The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) have recommended the recall of fresh spinach from the US market to minimise risk and protect consumers from a suspected E. Coli outbreak.

Contaminated spinach was distributed within the US, Canada and Mexico, although no illnesses have been reported to date outside of the US

The outbreak, of E. coli strain O157:H7, is reported to have infected more than 100 people in the states, and killed a 77-year-old Wisconsin woman.

Salinas-based River Ranch Fresh Foods yesterday (17 September) recalled all three of its spring mix salad brands that include spinach, called Farmers Market, Hy Vee, and Fresh and Easy.

River Ranch itself buys in bulk from Natural Selection Foods, which according to reports has been the primary focus of investigations into the outbreak.

Natural Selection has decided to voluntarily recall all products that contain spinach and have Best if Used by Dates between 17 August and 1 October.

Natural Selection Foods said in a statement: “We are aware of reports of illnesses in multiple states nationwide including one death, possibly related to E. coli contamination in fresh spinach. We have been working closely with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) to try to understand the scope and locate the source of any contamination.”

Brands included in the company’s recall are Dole, Natural Selection Foods, Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, Rave Spinach, Emeril, Sysco, O Organic, Fresh Point, River Ranch, Superior, Nature’s Basket, Pro-Mark, Compliments, Trader Joe’s, Ready Pac, Jansal Valley, Cheney Brothers, Coastline, D’Arrigo Brothers, Green Harvest, Mann, Mills Family Farm, Premium Fresh, Snoboy, The Farmer’s Market, Tanimura & Antle, President’s Choice, Cross Valley, Riverside Farms – all of which are involved with packing Natural Selection’s spinach.

Dole Food Company, part of the recall, voiced support for Natural Selection’s decision, which was made on Friday.

The firm’s recalled products include spinach and any salad with spinach in a blend, but products that do not contain spinach are not part of the recall.

United Fresh Produce Association president & CEO Tom Stenzel said: “The fresh produce industry commends the company for taking this pro-active action to ensure consumer health. While we understand that no definitive evidence has yet linked E. coli 0157:H7 to a specific spinach sample, we applaud the company for voluntarily recalling product to ensure the utmost caution in protecting health.”