Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More Fun With Spinach

Somewhat interesting, somewhat stupid, from yesterday's New York Times- When Bad Things Come From Good Food. What's interesting is the often mentioned irony of deadly food pathogens coming from the healthiest, most natural of foods. What's stupid? This right here ...

Over the past 30 years, diseases linked to produce have increased, Dr. Braden said. Increased ability to detect outbreaks may explain part of the increase, but not all of it, he added.

“We’re convinced it’s real in large part,” he said. “We’re seeing an increased number of outbreaks, an increased number of cases in outbreaks, and an increase in the number of types of produce involved.”

The reason is not known for sure. But, Dr. Braden said: “The way produce is farmed and processed has changed. It’s become more centralized, and you have these huge processors and distributors that produce tens of thousands of pounds of a particular produce in a particular day. If something goes wrong with that produce you’ve got a big problem, whereas with small farmers, if there is a problem it’s much more limited.”

In addition, he said, bagged and prewashed produce didn’t exist 25 years ago, and people today eat more raw vegetables than in the past.

“There’s probably more susceptible people eating those things,” Dr. Braden said. “We have an aging population, and more people with chronic medical conditions that might make them more susceptible.”

So in other words- there are more outbreaks because 1- We are able to detect more outbreaks, 2- Food is mass produced in greater numbers, meaning outbreaks are potentially more wide reaching, and 3- People eat more food susceptible to outbreaks and we have more elderly eating such foods. Now why so I say it's stupid to have pointed this out? Well, it's the context. Read on and you'll find all of these recommendations of the context of "something must be done!" Why doesn't it occur to anyone in the mainstream media that maybe there isn't all much we can do about this problem at this point? Irradiation is a possible solution, but food producers and distributors need to know that such technological fixes won't be rejected by the government.

For those overly concerned about food safety, the best solution is so easy, even a caveman can do it- cook your food and cook it thoroughly! We don't eat raw meat, raw milk or raw eggs anymore- so maybe we should take notice that eating raw vegetables could potentially have the same risks.

Now this is not to say the risks are the same. I'd never eat raw chicken, but I'm not going to give up eating fresh salads. The point is just to be aware. And maybe keep your bed ridden granny away from the raw spinach salad. Just don't look for help in the form of magical government solutions.


Post a Comment

<< Home