Elaine Meinel Supkis
I grow food and worry about germs. I also eat a lot of raw food. The recent e coli outbreak is interesting because it sprang out of SEALED BAGS. Not directly from a garden. Time to look into how e coli works and how to avoid it.
(09-20) 19:09 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --
Spinach found in the refrigerator of a person sickened by E. coli was contaminated with the bacteria, the "smoking gun" that investigators have sought for the origin of the deadly outbreak, health officials say.
Federal and state investigators on Wednesday focused their hunt to nine farms in California's greater Salinas Valley, said Dr. Mark Horton, the state public health officer. They also were checking processing plants, said Horton, who called the bag of tainted Dole baby spinach the "smoking gun" in the case.
This didn't come from several farms, the infected leaves are from one farm and researchers hope to locate it exactly. These were not 'organic' spinach farms, I farm 'organic', namely, when I had sheep, they were penned over winter in the garden so they fertilized the soil with their piss and in summer, the oxen and horses' droppings that sat in the sun in piles over the previous year were used. Not only that, I cover the soil with a ground cover and then mulched leaves to keep in moisture, keep out bugs and keep the leaves clean because I don't like dirty spinach.
The spinach in California is irrigated. Unlike the clean rain I get, this water has all sorts of stuff in it from all sorts of sources.
By ANDREW BRIDGES
The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 19, 2006; 8:49 PM
WASHINGTON -- Federal health officials are investigating whether a more potent strain of E. coli is behind an outbreak linked to fresh spinach that has sickened at least 131 people, half of whom have been hospitalized.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that fully 50 percent of those reported sick in the outbreak were hospitalized. That's more than the 25 percent to 30 percent seen in other E. coli outbreaks, said Dr. David Acheson of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Many, many years ago, I was against the wholesale drugging of farm animals. People wanting profits found if you feed medicines to animals on a regular basis, they grow bigger and faster and hens lay more eggs.
This has caused evolution of bacterium and viruses to speed up at warp speed. Instead of using this stuff sparingly, it was poured into the ecosystem. The cows and birds and pigs ingesting these drugs pass the germs into the ecosystem and their by-products have permeated the environment and this is all very dangerous. Now, we are increasingly exposing ourselves to increasingly deadly germs.
We'll talk about meat products first. Unless there is a cut in the meat, the meat below the surface is normally sterile (unless there is some intracellular organism present). However, whether or not some intracellular bug is around, the outside surfaces of all meat will have bacteria present - so - if some meat happens to be contaminated with the rare E.coli strain, O157:H7, it will be on the surface of the meat, and not down inside the fibers of the meat. However, as soon as the meat is cut with a knife or punctured with a fork, the knife blade or fork tine will carry the bacterial cells down into the cut or puncture - usually, such a situation is relatively safe because we cook the meat - certainly we cook the surface of the meat. Remember though, bacteria are _really_ small, so even a tiny, pretty much invisible cut in the meat could introduce bacteria down inside. In the case of E.coli O157:H7, the total number of bacteria required for infection appears to be about 10 - that's right, only 10 bacterial cells!
Ever since I was a child and we learned that unclean knives are the primary source of many forms of food poisoning (as well as cutting boards!), I am betting someone used a cutting blade improperly to cut something else (steaks, anyone?) and it got contaminated. Alternatively, dirty hands unwashed after using a toilet is another transmission point.
But the key here is the sealed plastic bag! All these raw salad making are increasingly packaged in plastic bags. Many germs love this sort of environment, they really don't like oxygen all that much, when they evolved, the earth didn't have much oxygen, this gas is due to single celled organisms spitting out oxygen. Selling bags of raw leafy vegetables should be stopped. I don't care how convenient it seems. In winter, when I buy leafy veggies, I put them in a temporary bag and then, at home, wrap them in a slightly damp cheesecloth. This is the best way to deal with them. And I don't buy cut up stuff. If I buy spinach, I cut off the cut ends, one by one. This severs the part touched by previous knives.