Tuesday, September 26, 2006
(an image of E. coli O157:H7)
For a while now, I've had a simmering resentment I can't put my finger on about this whole spinach/E. coli recall thing. What can it be? Let's see...
Tons of spinach and mesclun mix, much of it organic, getting tossed into the trash.
An air of bad publicity and suspicion surrounding spinach that might not be gone for years.
FACT: E. coli O157:H7, the strain associated with the latest spinach recall can be killed by cooking at 160 degrees for 15 seconds (Source: New York Times 9/20/2006)
FACT: The FDA's own words: "E. coli O157:H7 is easily destroyed by thorough cooking." (Source: Well, when you search "beef safety" on the FDA website, you mysteriously get transported to the USDA beef "fact" sheet http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Beef_from_Farm_to_Table/index.asp)
FACT: The FDA did not tell people to stop eating beef or to throw millions of dollars worth of it away a few years ago when there was an E. coli outbreak associated with tainted beef, merely to cook it more thoroughly
FACT: The FDA did tell people to stop eating spinach and to throw away all spinach, because it "wants to maintain a simple cosumer message" and "not confuse people by saying which circumstances are appropriate for eating uncooked spinach." (New York Times 9/20/2006)
FACT: eating spinach = good
FACT: eating beef = bad
FACT: Cattle lobby: rich, well connected, holds FDA in palm of hand
FACT: Spinach lobby: ???
So all this food is going to waste, when the problem could be taken care of by locating the source of the outbreak and in the meantime, buying locally grown spinach from trusted farmers and cooking it well. Meanwhile, people are told that it is all right to go around eating beef which is the source of E. coli contamination because major lobbies such as the cattle lobby financially control the public health mechanisms in this country.
So go ahead Jimmy, eat that burger- just make sure there's no organic spinach on it!