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Illinois food poisoning attorneysPeople in the United States are often affected by foodborne illnesses. Even though companies that grow, pack, manufacture, distribute, and sell food products are required to meet certain standards to ensure that these products are safe to eat, some foods still become contaminated, leading to serious cases of food poisoning. Of the many different sources of foodborne illness, E. coli is one of the most common, and over the past several years, there have been dozens of outbreaks that have been linked to lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens. 

Most recently, an E. coli outbreak resulted in 40 infections and 20 hospitalizations across 19 states between August and October of 2020. The majority of the patients interviewed during an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported eating leafy greens such as spinach or romaine lettuce before becoming infected. However, the CDC was unable to identify a specific source of this outbreak, since the harvesting, processing, and packaging of different types of leafy greens makes it difficult to determine where the original contamination occurred.

Contamination of Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are susceptible to E. coli contamination due to the way they are grown, harvested, and processed. In many cases, animals are raised near where these plants are grown, which may lead to the spread of bacteria to these products. E. coli contamination may also be spread through irrigation or while leafy greens are being harvested and handled. Contaminated products may be included in salad mixes, or cross-contamination may occur in a processing facility, grocery store, or restaurant.

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