October 23, 2006

C.U. Dining Reports Spinach OK to Eat

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After an E.coli scare nearly eight weeks ago prompted a massive recall of spinach, the veggie is once again safe to eat.

According to Anthony Kvergas, senior executive chef for retail operations, Cornell discarded all spinach, as well as mesclun lettuce products which also contained the bacterium, when the outbreak was first announced. Cornell’s dining office waited three weeks before purchasing spinach again from their produce distributor, Ithaca Produce.

Kvergas explained that this delay was not out of fear of purchasing contaminated spinach, because Ithaca Produce did not buy its spinach from any of the distributors that produced spinach contaminated with E. coli.
Rather, dining services believed that students would not be inclined to eat spinach for a certain period of time.

“We knew it would take a while for students to feel comfortable again to eat spinach, so we decided to hold off on purchasing spinach for a while,” Kvergas said.

Other dining establishments in Ithaca, such as The Boatyard Grill, have expressed similar views. Close to two months since the outbreak, The Boatyard Grill will finally bring back to the menu their well-known Spinach and Artichoke Fondue appetizer.

Boatyard General Manager Glen Smith said, “It was technically fine for us to order new spinach two weeks ago, but since we knew clients wouldn’t want to eat it, we saw no reason in rushing the process.”
Although no cases of E.coli linked to spinach were reported in Ithaca, only recently have Cornell students begun to shed their fears of the E. coli outbreak.

“I chose not to eat spinach for a while, even after they said it was okay to eat it. I am just starting to eat spinach again,” said Stephanie Feit ’09.
Kvergas, however, assures students that it is perfectly safe to eat spinach again on campus.
“Students have nothing to worry about. All spinach on campus is safe to eat,” he said.

The Center for Disease Control website reported that after roughly six weeks, the E. coli outbreak related to spinach had affected 26 states. 199 people were infected, three of whom died. Also, 31 of the 199 persons infected, developed a type of kidney failure known as hemolutic-uremic syndrome.