HealthDay News: U.S. Food Problems, part 1
This is pretty cool. HealthDay News is kicking off a three part investigation on U.S. food safety issues. More from Amanda Gardner:
More than ever before, Americans are worried about the safety of the food they put in their mouths -- and with good reason.
In little less than a year and a half, the nationwide recalls of tainted products have formed their own peculiar food pyramid: meats, vegetables, salad, snacks, fast food, even dessert items. The various pathogens in those products killed at least three people, sickened more than 1,300 others and touched almost every state in the country as well as Canada.
And even though the number of outbreaks has leveled off over the last few years, it is the variety of outbreaks that most troubles the scientists and government health officials who deal with them: Many of the contaminations are showing up in foods never before associated with poisoning…
…Increasingly today, produce is grown in fields close to cattle and, sometimes, wild animals. The E. coli spinach contamination could have come from cattle or boar feces, or from contaminated irrigation systems, federal officials concluded.
The widening of E. coli cases from protein products to fresh fruits and vegetables is related to "the fact that U.S. agricultural commodities tend to be grown in areas that have cattle, which are reservoirs for bacteria," explained Bruce Clark, a partner in the Seattle law firm of Marler Clark, which represents victims of food poisoning. "As soon as you have manure on the ground, and you have birds and wild animals and water, you have all these vectors for transferring bacteria to fresh fruits and vegetables."
And, most of the time, Clark added, produce is not subjected to the "kill step" (usually cooking), which would eliminate the pathogens. In fact, washing may not even help because of the ability of the organisms to cling to food surfaces.
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