(Oct. 12) Cattle feces from a ranch near spinach fields in San Benito County, Calif., contains the same genetic strain of the E. coli implicated in an outbreak, California health officials announced on Oct. 12.

Samantha Cabaluna, senior manager of communications for San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Natural Selection Foods LLC, which processed spinach traced to the outbreak, said the finding reinforces what the company thought all along. Immediately after the detection, the company implemented stringent guidelines, Cabaluna said.

“The source point was probably in a field somewhere,” she said. “Yet, even without knowing the specifics, we went ahead and launched those farm-field-level food safety programs.”

The California Department of Health Services announced the finding during a news briefing, after ongoing field investigations at four farms in San Benito and Monterey counties.

“This is good news, and I think we’re getting closer to the smoking gun, and we can work on protocols that will (ensure) the safety in the future,” said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif. “I think we’re getting to close to the end of the first stage of finding the cause for the outbreak.”

Wildlife, including feral pigs and deer, also roam the property, according to investigators.

E. coli strain link to ranch narrows search
Produce grows in this field across from a ranch where cattle feces may be implicated.