Wednesday, October 25, 2006

E Coli Contaminated Spinach

So they've finally figured out where and how the contaminated spinach came from.

It seems that an unidentified beef cattle ranch in the California Salinas Valley leases some of its fields to spinach growers. E coli in the several cow pies matched the e coli found in the contaminated spinach.

Federal regulators are concerned about the practice of raising cattle near fields that grow salad greens and hopefully will develop stricter guidelines such as minimum distance, upslope and down slope between pasture and fields.

In the meantime, keep these facts in mind taken from Organic Bytes issue #93 put out by the Organic Consumers Association (

- Despite a number of inaccurate media reports, the recent spinach E.Coli outbreak has not been linked to any organic products. The outbreak has now been directly linked to a factory farm feedlot located adjacent to conventional spinach fields in California.

- This was the 25th E.coli outbreak in the California Salinas Valley in 11 years, demonstrating, once again, that industrial farms and feedlots and their toxic runoff are inherently dangerous.
Studies show that factory-farmed cattle have 300 times more pathogenic bacteria in their digestive tracts than cattle that are allowed to openly graze in pastures.
- If you are concerned about E.coli, organic food is the way to go. The USDA national organic standards require organic farmers to carefully compost their fertilizer--made up of animal manure and plant matter--up to 160 degrees, so as to kill any harmful bacteria.
Organic farmers can only apply this composted manure four months prior to planting.
- Conventional farms have no regulations specifying when they can and can't apply manure and are not required to destroy the harmful bacteria in the manure prior to spreading. In addition, it is perfectly legal to spread highly toxic sewage sludge on conventional farms, while this practice in banned on organic farms.

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