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Morning headlines: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Mike Anderson)

County confirms salad bars at Schnucks focus of E. coli investigation

St. Louis County officials have acknowledged that salad bars at Schnucks are the main focus of an investigation into an E. coli outbreak.

Health department spokesman John Shelton told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that “an overwhelming majority” of the 35 people with reported E. coli infections had eaten unspecified items from the salad bars at several Schnucks stores throughout the region. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has confirmed 28 of the 35 cases.

Schuncks last week pulled items, including lettuce, from their salad bars, and in a news release said that while  no E. coli tests taken at its stores have come back positive, it's taking every precaution.

Survey shows economic uncertainty

A new survey of supply managers and executives in the Midwest and Plains states shows some pessimism about the economy.

The Business Conditions Index score, released Tuesday, took a negative turn for the first time in two years. It dropped to 49.9 in October, down from 52.2 in September. Scores above 50 generally suggest growth, while scores below 50 signal a shrinking economy.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says October's reading does not signal a recession, but is evidence that weakness in the national economy has also hit the region. The survey includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Dakotas.

Intra-party feud on Mamtek investigation

Republicans in the Missouri State House are feuding over the scope of an investigation into a failed sweetener plant in southeast Missouri.

House Speaker Steven Tilley wants to audit the finances of the city of Moberly, where Mamtek was supposed to build a plant to make artificial sucralose. But state Representative Randy Asbury says the city is not in financial danger because it’s not liable for any of the bonds involved in the failed Mamtek deal.

The city borrowed 3$39 million to help finance factory's construction. Repaying the bonds would cost more than 57 million dollars over the next 15 years, but Asbury says Moberly has no obligations to make those payments.

An audit of Moberly would require a citizen petition or a request from Governor Jay Nixon.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.