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Press release fun

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Bloggers: How do you know when you've become part of the official media? When individuals, businesses and governmental institutions start sending you press releases. Reporters get them all the time.

I end up deleting many of the press releases I get, but occasionally one catches my eye. Here's one I just got from the health department that I thought I'd pass on. If you read between the lines, you'll discover the hidden message: Eat local.

Health Department advises consumers to discard bagged spinach following e.Coli outbreak

For Immediate Release: Sept. 15, 2006
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON –  The Vermont Department of Health issued a health advisory today about an outbreak of E.coli traced to prepackaged, bagged spinach that has caused illnesses in eight states including Connecticut and one death in Wisconsin.

“There have been no reported cases of E.coli in Vermont related to the recent foodborne outbreak, but we advise that consumers and restaurants discard any bagged, fresh spinach at this time,” said Patsy Tassler, an epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health. “Anyone who experiences symptoms of illness after eating bagged spinach should contact their health care provider immediately.”

The federal Food and Drug Administration is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to trace the spinach back to its grower and vendors. More than 50 cases of illness have been reported to the CDC.

The warning applies to bagged spinach only and not to frozen block spinach, spinach from local markets or mixed bags of lettuce that also include spinach.

E.coli is a food-borne virus that causes severe diarrhea, often with bloody stools, and abdominal cramps. Some infected people experience only mild diarrhea and no other symptoms.

Eeeew.

UPDATE: Apparently this E.coli outbreak is a big deal. Toss that spinach, folks! 

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