Over 400 people are sickened by eating salad, food wraps and other items that contain fresh (uncooked) vegetables at various fast food chain restaurants because May 1, 2018. Others recently became ill after eating prepared salads or using vegetables bagged as salad ingredients brought home from food store chains. Some people who prefer to lick the spoon after mixing homemade or prepackaged cake or cookie dough also got sick on account of the flour (already remembered ) or eggs (salmonella) in the mix. Why have things like fresh vegetables and flour suddenly turn into a potential health threat?
Nobody will like the answer, but it is the truth. I have been writing about this for over twenty years. In the late 1990s and early 2000s a good deal of people started to become seriously ill and some died after eating fresh veggies or prepared foods which contain them like salads, tacos, wraps etc. Others got sick from uncooked batter and a few fruits. Please note that this was not just your typical case of food poisoning caused by stale or undercooked food. These instances involved possible killers like campylobacter, e coli and listeria. Why so many instances and how did they get into our food?
You might be thinking this has to do with home cooks and restaurant employees not washing fresh veggies before using them in something like a salad, sandwich or wrap. Regrettably, that has not been the problem. Dirt and external contaminates like pesticides could be washed off vegetables. Washing will do nothing for vegetables infected with campylobacter, e coli and listeria. There are far more cases of vegetables infected with these contaminants now than ever before.
For several years the same groups of migrant workers and their children picked U.S. grown produce. They tended to move around the country because they had work most of the year. When there wasn’t any create to harvest, they got jobs in food processing plants. However, since fast food franchises and chain restaurants became extremely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, growers grew more and there was a need for larger numbers of people to select and assist harvest their crops. This caused a massive influx of new faces from Mexico and South American Nations.
The old joke (and even a movie title) says,”Don’t drink the water south of the border.” Why? Since the water supply in a number of these poor countries is dangerously contaminated with all kinds of bacteria. That’s because raw sewage is dumped into whatever water is available to move it away from populated areas in places lacking treatment centers. This fact is proven by the normal contamination of seawater off San Diego beaches that’s occasionally so contaminated with Mexican sewer that swimming is dangerous.
In many cases the same freshwater that’s badly contaminated with sewage is used for drinking and washing clothes. Because this has gone on for so long, the people in those places have built up immunities to most of the contaminates. However, they stay in their bodies. Sometimes growers do not offer any or appropriate mobile toilet facilities for pickers or workers. Likewise, food processing plants that don’t enforce handwashing or other food safety procedures wind up with the same problem if their employees make physical contact with food through touch or sweat.
Dangerous bacteria are sucked up into crops through the water they consume from the ground. That type of contamination can’t be washed out; it is in the food. The exact same goes if bacteria gets into processed food through carelessness. Testing helps with processing centers, but it is usually too late to catch all the tainted food products in time to keep everybody safe. Last year uncooked vegetables and a fresh fruit made one in six people in the USA and Canada sick. Far more than became ill because of undercooked or tainted beef, poultry, pork or fish. We don’t have the immunities that the pickers and food employees have to fight off harmful contaminants. So what can be done?
There are some things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from these dangers. First, identify the problem foods that people tend to eat uncooked. I suggest microwaving uncooked veggies for 1-2 minutes on high power. Scientists disagree with one another on the benefit of microwaving, but it’s worked for me and my family for ages.
Fruits, well I can only suggest that you buy fruit and veggies grown in the USA. Be especially cautious when it comes to strawberries, cantalopes and grapes. There are also many ways to cook fruit and still maintain its taste and health benefits. Cook eggs and meats thoroughly and avoid unpasteurized milk and cheeses. Beware of meats or seafood processed and produced in different countries. Not long ago people were sickened by shrimp raised in severely contaminated breeding pools outside the USA.