Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Is Fresh Always Better?

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Chipoltle has had some serious troubles recently with the outbreak of food borne illnesses.  Could it be due to their recent shift to using fresh foods including produce?  So far, the source of the outbreaks have not been identified.  It has long been known that fresh produce is often a source of E.coli 0157:H7, Salmonella species or Listeria.

The most troubling aspect is how do we deal with this problem?  When lettuce was swabbed in a class project, there were no differences in whole lettuce vs. bagged lettuce for bacterial presence.  And to make it worse, no method of washing, cleaning or spinning decreased the number significantly. So some responsible produce producers have attempted to prevent this occurrence before the consumer or buyer buys their products. Earthbound Farm, Costco and Ready Pac uses certain testing methods before their bagged lettuce and spinach arrives in the hands of the consumer.  The following articles describe the whole story.

Another solution is the use of irradiated foods.  However, producers are hesitant to use this approach due to consumer acceptance issues.  Keep in mind that young children and the elderly are most at risk due to weaker immune system protections.    FYI- I must admit that I do not eat bagged salads or restaurant salads, but after teaching an infectious disease course for a number of years, one becomes a little paranoid.  My advice: Use whole romaine leaves that are easiest to wash individually and as always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling any food.

Read the details HERE



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