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Dole Recalls Spinach Over Salmonella Concerns

Health + Wellness
Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning. Getty Images

By Julia Ries

This might not be the best week to load up on your leafy greens.


Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. has issued a recall for several packages of baby spinach due to a possible Salmonella contamination.

The recall was issued after a random sample of the spinach tested positive for Salmonella, Dole stated in an announcement shared by the Food and Drug AdministrationTrusted Source (FDA) last week.

No illnesses have been linked to the affected products so far, but health officials are urging consumers to throw away the products immediately as Salmonella Trusted Source can cause severe health issues in some people — especially infants, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems.

"Salmonella is concerning to consumers because it can contaminate food and lead to foodborne illness. Though most cases of Salmonella are not severe and consist of diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever, in certain individuals it can lead to bloodstream infections, hospitalization, and death," Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Healthline.

Here’s What’s Been Recalled

The contaminated spinach products were sold in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

They affected products, which have a use-by date of August 5, 2019, include:

  • 6 ounce Dole Baby Spinach bag, Lot code W20308A (UPC code 0-71430-00964-2)
  • 10 ounce Dole Baby Spinach clamshell, Lot code W203010 (UPC code 0-71430-00016-8)

According to Dole, the packages were expired and should no longer be on the shelves.

However, seeing as people may still have the spinach stored in their fridge, it's crucial to check your food and throw it away if it's from the affected lots.

Salmonella Comes on Quick and Usually Clears Up On Its Own

Most people who become infected with Salmonella will experience symptoms, like diarrhea and abdominal pain, for about four to seven days before it clears up on its own.

In general, the incubation period is fairly short, with symptoms popping up between eight hours to three days after you've eaten any affected foods.

"It tends to happen relatively quickly. If you ate it last week and you're feeling fine, you don't need to fret," said Dr. Robert S. Brown, the clinical chief of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

In certain patients, like the immunosuppressed, the infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream. When this happens, Salmonella can be life threatening unless it's promptly treated with antibiotics.

Contaminated Fresh Veggies Can Cause Massive Outbreaks

This isn't the first time fresh spinach has carried dangerous bacteria into the homes of thousands of consumers.

You may recall the 2006 spinach recall Trusted Source that sent more than 200 people to the hospital and caused three deaths, due to a widespread E. coli contamination.

Fresh veggies become contaminated with bacteria when infected fecal matter — usually from the gastrointestinal tracts of animals — makes its way into the growing, harvesting, or food preparation processes.

Contaminated vegetables can cause an outbreak when people don't wash their vegetables, let alone cook them, Brown explained.

That said, it looks like this recall won't be causing a massive outbreak anywhere close to the 2006 spinach fiasco.

There've been no reported illnesses thus far, and the number of affected lots is fairly limited in size.

In addition, Salmonella tends to cause a much milder illness than the type of E. coli that circulated back in 2006, according to Adalja.

Still, the multi-state outbreak in 2006 shed light on the possible public health risks of eating contaminated veggies and the importance of paying attention to urgent recall notices.

"Foodborne outbreaks have the potential to become very large and impact large swaths of the country," Adalja said. "Because of this, it is very important that people be aware of the risk of these illnesses and adhere to good food preparation practices."

The Bottom Line

Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. issued a recall for several packages of fresh baby spinach due to a possible Salmonella contamination.

While there have been no reported illnesses linked to the contamination yet, health officials are urging consumers to throw away the affected products as Salmonella can cause severe health issues in infants, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

While the infection usually clears up on its own in most people, at-risk patients may experience blood stream infections, hospitalization, and even death.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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