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Abstract

This case summarizes the 2006 fresh spinach recall and questions prompted by one of the largest outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States in recent years — an estimated 4,000 cases. While every food recall is important and unique, the contamination of fresh spinach with the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 during the summer and fall of 2006 and the breadth of the recall and the severity of the consequences from E. coli O157:H7 lend themselves to this exemplary case study. This study also helps illustrate the complexity of the food supply chain and the food recall process. A similar incident, involving fresh tomatoes and peppers rather than spinach, and Salmonella rather than E. coli, occurred in the spring and summer of 2008. It is explored briefly at the end of this case study.

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