"Missourians have probably worried more about E. coli turning up in their lakes than their lettuce.
That attitude probably changed recently when the state Department of Health and Senior Services reported that a deadly form of the bug -- known as E. coli O157 -- had invaded parts of the local food chain. As of Monday morning, 28 cases had been confirmed in St. Louis County, up from 24 on Friday. State officials have tested 55 food samples, but have yet to identify the source of the outbreak. Investigators first focused on salad bars at some Schnucks stores, where some of the victims had eaten, but none of the food products from them has tested positive for the bacteria. Federal investigators are also looking beyond Missouri because some food items that might have sickened people were imported from outside the state.
While the outbreak remains a worry for health officials, some stepped back to look at the big picture and noted that E. coli outbreaks had been declining in Missouri in recent years. Health officials recorded 68 cases in 2009, the most recent data available. That number represented 10.5 percent fewer cases than in 2008. The drop marked the third year the number had declined..."