Sprouts, e.coli, and food safety

Yesterday, I read an article from the NPR food blog about an outbreak of illnesses among people who ate sprouts on their sandwiches at Jimmy John’s restaurants. Read the full article here.

This is scary for so many reasons. With more and more people eating out on a daily basis and expecting to purchase safe meat and vegetables at restaurants, it leads me to question whether our food is actually safe enough or if we putting ourselves at risk by eating out.

It’s not as simple as just choosing to forego sprouts on your sandwich. Visit the Food Safety and Inspection Service section of the USDA website and just take a look at the current list of recalls. Already in 2012 there have been 7 recalls. I clicked on the Cobb Salad entry warning of possible Listeria contamination. The description of the disease is enough to knock your socks off and discourage you from eating packaged Cobb Salad ever again:

“Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. However, listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.”

I wanted to read more about e.coli outbreaks and lucky me, there was a recall on December 16, 2011. 40,948 pounds of ground beef were recalled. That’s a whole lot of ground beef to go to waste. Also, question: when meat is recalled, where does it go?

I don’t think we should just have to deal with these food safety problems. Contaminated meat and vegetables should never even make it to the shelves for consumers to buy. But until the FSIS inspects every food processing plant and shuts down the ones that are pumping out 40,948 pounds of contaminated ground beef, we’ll be buying our meat from sources we can trust and growing our own, non-contaminated vegetables.

Will research how to grow sprouts and post knowledge here.


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