FBI raids companies linked to E. coli-tainted spinach

Federal agents raided two produce plants in Salinas Valley, Calif., yesterday, as part of a criminal investigation into whether they violated food-safety and environmental laws in distributing E. coli-tainted spinach. The FBI and the Food and Drug Administration executed search warrants for the plants operated by Natural Selection Foods and Growers Express. “We are investigating allegations that certain spinach growers and distributors may not have taken all necessary or appropriate steps to ensure that their spinach was safe before they were placed into interstate commerce,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan. The investigators do not believe the contamination was deliberate, but the companies could be criminally penalized if found to have been negligent. Said Natural Selection CEO Charles Sweat, “We continue to believe that the source of the contamination was in the fields from which we buy our spinach.” Eight samples of cow poop near two Salinas Valley spinach fields tested positive for E. coli on Tuesday, but it is yet to be determined whether it matches the strain that killed one person and sickened nearly 200 across the U.S. and Canada.