Spinach Is Safe to Eat Again

Fresh spinach is back on the shelves.

The federal government says it's safe to eat as long as it doesn't come from three California counties that were the sources of deadly contaminated spinach.

Two weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration warned people not to eat it because of an outbreak of E. coli.

Now, things appear to be under control, officials say.

The shelves at Wegmans, an East Coast chain of 71 grocery stores, are green with fresh spinach, and shoppers like Jeri Rippon are glad to have it back.

"I've been having frozen spinach. It's not the same," Rippon said. "I'm a little nervous today."

Wegmans is confident about the return of fresh spinach.

"The FDA says this product is safe. We think this product is safe," said Wegmans' spokeswoman Jo Natale. "We think it's important to build confidence in this product again."

The E. coli outbreak appears to be contained after striking in 26 states across the country. At least 187 people have been sickened by contaminated spinach.

Twenty-nine have come down with HUS, a serious form of kidney trouble.

At least one person has died.

So far investigators can't pinpoint where in the growing, processing and delivery chain the contamination occurred.

They do know it infected spinach grown in three California counties responsible for almost half the spinach produced in America.

Spinach producers are taking a hit.

The Western Growers Association estimates California spinach growers have lost at least $1 million a day since the E. coli contamination started.

"In our, 20 years of processing solids, nothing like this has ever happened," said Charles Sweat, CEO of Natural Selection Foods.

Natural Selection Foods, the California-produce packaging company linked to some of the infected spinach, is going to ramp up testing even though it says the bacteria did not originate in its plant.

Sweat is offering to pay medical expenses for people sickened by spinach his company packed.

"We know it's the right thing to do for those people who are affected by this outbreak," he said.

The government says the spinach that was contaminated was grown in just three California counties. All other spinach is safe to eat.

To be extra safe with spinach, cook it to at least 160 degrees for at least 15 seconds to kill any E. coli.

Wash your hands before and after handling raw spinach, and don't let the raw spinach touch any food, dishes or utensils.

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