In September 2006, the FDA warned U.S. consumers to stop eating fresh spinach. Apparently, Popeye's favorite leafy green vegetable was making people sick with E. coli. The company Natural Selection Foods issued a voluntary recall of their spinach products, and supermarkets pulled the product from their shelves. The outbreak eventually took at least three lives and made hundreds of people sick [source: Sung].
The U.S. spinach industry, meanwhile, took a harsh blow. Recall costs and estimated sales losses amounted to a staggering $350 million [source: Weise]. And the industry was only very slowly able to regain consumer confidence in the product.
Investigators were unable to pin down exactly how the spinach got contaminated with the disease. One suspicion is that farmers used contaminated water to irrigate the crops [source: Sander]. As a preventive measure, the spinach industry came up with stricter rules for growing spinach, including expanding the buffer required between crops and pasture areas [source: Schmit].