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Bagged Spinach Recall; Yet Another Salmonella Tainted Food Product to Reach Consumers

Aug 30, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP

Fresh bagged spinach is being recalled by the California grower Metz Fresh, LLC.  The company says a sample of the recalled spinach, which was shipped to grocery stores and food service vendors, has tested positive for Salmonella contamination.   This is the third fresh spinach recall in the past year.  Last year, bagged spinach sold by Dole was implicated in an E. coli outbreak that killed three people and sickened 225 others.   Fresh spinach and bagged salad greens sold by Classic Salads, LLC of Salinas, California were also recalled last summer after testing positive for Salmonella bacteria.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said in a press release that it has not received any reports of illness as a result of the Salmonella-tainted Metz Fresh spinach.   The recalled spinach was sold in 10 and 16 ounce bags at grocery stores, and in 2.5 and 4 pound bags shipped in cartons to food service vendors.   All of the packages bear the “Metz Fresh” label and tracking codes 12208114, 12208214 and 12208314.  

Metz Fresh said that it first became aware of the Salmonella problem after a sample of the spinach tested “presumptive positive” for the bacteria on Friday.   By Tuesday, further testing had confirmed the Salmonella contamination.  Metz Fresh said that on Friday it was able to track and hold about 90-percent of the more than 8,100 cases of tainted spinach that had shipped.  The spinach was slated to be shipped across the continental US and Canada.  The company is now working with the FDA to determine where the remaining spinach went.

Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea.  Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days.  In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications.  Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.  Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination.  Reiter’s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.

The Metz Fresh spinach recall is only the latest in a string of food poisoning-related recalls this year. Just yesterday, American Pie, LLC recalled Marie Callender’s Turtle Pies after the frozen dessert tested positive for an unspecified bacteria.   Last week, baby carrots were recalled by the Los Angeles Salad Company after they were linked to an outbreak of Shigellosis in Canada.   Dry dog food, peanut butter and children’s snack foods have been implicated in several Salmonella outbreaks.  And canned products like hot dog chili sauces and green beans have been linked to botulism.

Metz Fresh has said that customers who bought the Salmonella contaminated fresh spinach should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.   The company has also set up a hotline in order to answer questions regarding the recall.  That number is 831-386-1018.

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