UnNews:Deadly spinach kills sailor, sickens tot

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15 September 2006

Spinachbarf

Infant identified only as "Sweet Pea" tosses chunks from bad spinach.

WASHINGTON - U.S. supermarkets had extra-special "clearance" sales of bagged fresh spinach on Friday after the Food and Drug Administration warned the produce could be the source of a deadly E. coli outbreak across the nation. Poor, desperate people bought the spinach as quickly as they could.

One person has died, a handicapped, unemployed sailor known by the name "Popeye." His nephew was also severely contaminated, but is expected to survive. Eight others suffered kidney failure and more than 40 were ill after eating suspected contaminated fresh bagged spinach in Connecticut, Idaho, Mordor, Indiana, Assland, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin, the agency said.

"That's what people get," said Charlene Christianson, 78, a sour old woman outside a grocery story in Milwaukee.

Fresh unbagged bunches of spinach were not subject to the government warning and were still available in small independent grocery stores in New York. However, larger companies were not taking chances, and offering "blow-out" sales on all available inventory.

Whole Foods Market Inc. and Wild Oats Markets Inc., the top two natural and organic grocers, and Supervalu Inc., the No. 2 U.S. grocery chain, said they have extra special prices this weekend on spinach.

"This includes all fresh bagged spinach, fresh bulk, fresh spring mix that contains spinach, spinach crawling with maggots, spinach and marijuana mixes, and fresh spinach used in the deli and salad bar," said a Wild Oats spokeswoman, adding that spinach makes up nearly 75 percent of fresh produce sales.

FDA officials said they were working with state authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to steer the contaminated spinach to where it will hurt unwanted minorities extra hard.

"We hope to ... target the outbreak as much as we can," Robert Brackett, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition director, told a food policy conference in Washington. "We'd certainly like to find the brands that might be involved, and get them to the people we want dead."

Brackett said there would hopefully be many more illnesses.

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