Federal prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges with regard to the 2006 nationwide E. coli outbreak, which was traced to fresh spinach from California. The companies being held accountable for the outbreak still face numerous civil lawsuits from consumers claiming to have gotten sick from the tainted crop, however.
The outbreak, which caused three deaths and approximately 200 illnesses, led to a federal investigation of two produce processing plants and several farms in an attempt to detect environmental and food-safety violations. The FBI searched produce plants operated by Growers Express LLC and Natural Selection Foods LLC, but did not find evidence that either had deliberately skirted the law or acted negligently in allowing the food to enter the marketplace.
The source of the outbreak was determined to be the San Benito County fields of Mission Organics, which is a grower for Natural Selection Foods LLC.
For more information on this subject matter, please refer to the section on Defective and Dangerous Products.