Source of Tainted Spinach Found

The source of the E. coli tainted spinach that resulted in an outbreak last fall has been found. No, it wasn’t terrorism. It was an organic farm in San Benito County.

The contamination occurred in a field transitioning from conventional to organic farming practices, she said.

Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler, who is representing 90 plaintiffs in a suit related to the E. coli outbreak, added Salinas grower Mission Organics to the defendants in his lawsuit on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Marler told the Free Lance he has known since November that the E. coli contamination occurred on land farmed by Mission Organics and leased from Paicines Ranch, and that the state agency’s investigation only confirmed that.

“It’s the worst-kept secret,” Marler said. “It was already evident, and once you say that it’s a 50-acre ranch, well, it is what it is.”

FILED UNDER: Health, ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Fersboo says:

    Organic food! Is there nothing it can’t do?

  2. markm says:

    Not being all knowing about e-coli…almost all crops around me are grown in fields covered in cow manuer…how come there is now e-coli problems around here??.

    Sounds like a lack of washing to me.

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    Bagged spinach is supposed to be ready to eat. And even washing the spinach might reduce the problem, but it probably would still have been a fairly large outbreak, IMO.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    According to the reports washing won’t solve the problem: the infection is within the plant itself, taken in through ground water.

  5. mw6000 says:

    As more farms go organic, I suspect more e. coli breakouts will occur. Reason – more natural fertilizers that is the source of e. coli and NO pesticides that kill e. coli. Washing has no effect.

    Conclusion – organic food is less safe than “Chemical food.” Progress and science usually makes things faster, cheaper, better, and safer. Farming is no exception.

  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    I agree with you, animal waste, human waste, rotting animal flesh is not “Chemical Food.” Throw it in the garden. I don’t want pooh thrown on my food before it is gathered for human consumption.

  7. Dan Collins says:

    It was . . . BLUTO!