The Spinach Puzzle

As of Friday, according to the CDC, 166 people had been sickened by eating spinach contaminated with E. coli since late August. Eighty-eight have been hospitalized. There is one confirmed death and two additional possible deaths.

Food-borne pathogens normally send 325,000 people to the hospital every year in this country, and cause 5,200 deaths, according to the CDC. In other words, one would expect that roughly 25,000-30,000 people have been hospitalized over the last month for eating tainted foods other than spinach, and more than 400 people died. Given those numbers, I’m puzzled as to why spinach has caused a national conniption.


  1. John, don’t you know how incredibly powerful the Bok Choi Lobby has become? It’s the only explanation. Media hysteria would be my second guess. I’m actually more curious about what would happen if Popeye ate tainted spinach. Would it have the same mesomorphic effect? Would he still be able to swiftly defeat Bruno?

  2. If the 325000 cases were from a single source, as the spinach is, then I would expect the feds to shut down that source. I suspect the 325,00 cases are as much from leaving the potato salad out too long to the corner restaurant.

    I’m certainly going to avoid spinach if i know its harmful just as much as I will avoid the potato salad.

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