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E.Coli - Spinach Contamination in Perspective


We have all heard about spinach being practically taken off the market in the US over an incident of contamination with e.coli bacteria. Some random examples: E. coli case in W.Va. linked to bagged spinach - Spinach Recall - Stores Begin To Carry Spinach Again.

To put all this in perspective, here is a discussion posted by Rocky Ward on the Alternative Medicine Forum.

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Spinach, a Little Perspective
Posted by: "Rocky Ward
Date: Wed Sep 27, 2006

In what "appears" to be one of the biggest news stories of the year, bagged spinach has been withdrawn from supermarket shelves across America after an E. coli outbreak that has killed one person and caused illness in over 150 others. Most restaurants have pulled all spinach from their menus claiming their customers will no longer touch it. The spinach, grown and distributed by a California company, could have been contaminated in the field or during processing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some groups, such as the Hudson Institute, are using this incident as an opportunity to discredit organic farming. So is natural, raw, bagged spinach worth all the fuss?

Well certainly you want to pull contaminated food from the shelves, but really. Considering how much press the spinach incident has received, you might be surprised to learn that, according to the CDC, E. coli causes an estimated 73,000 cases of infection, including 61 deaths, each year in the United States. Isn't that fascinating?

Considering how much uproar we're hearing over 150 infections and 1 death, why have we heard almost nothing about the other 73,000 infections and 61 deaths? Could it be because the primary source of infection, again according to the CDC, is "associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef?" And we all know what happens when you say anything negative about the beef industry!

You think I'm being paranoid when I suggest that the health food industry gets singled out for unusual treatment as opposed to mainstream industries? Consider that as a result of just 10 people being infected with E. coli by contaminated Odwalla juice back in 1986, the sale of non-pasteurized juices was pretty much eliminated from the market ... for all brands, for good. And yet, 60 some people die every year from eating contaminated meat and you hardly ever hear about it. Very interesting!

So what can we expect?

Look for another run at suggesting that all produce be irradiated to kill contaminating bacteria, and coincidentally, to prolong shelf life. Resist it. Life has risks, and your odds of dying from E. coli are far less than your chances of being hit by lightning. Your body thrives on raw fresh foods. It dies on a sustained diet of cooked and processed food. And as for irradiated food, you don't want to go there.

Oh, and one other thing to consider. The vast majority of people who eat contaminated spinach show no symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms at most. Why is that? It would seem to be an important question -- possibly the most important question, yes?

Quite simply, those with healthy populations of beneficial bacteria in their intestinal tracts are virtually immune to E. coli problems. With beneficial bacteria lining every square inch of your intestinal tract, there is simply no room for ingested E. coli to take root, colonize, and multiply -- not to mention the fact that the beneficial bacteria gobble up any stray E. coli they encounter. In other words, the outbreak has less to do with contaminated food than it does with the epidemic of compromised immune systems and intestinal tracts. Rather than fret about the remote possibility of eating contaminated spinach, you'd be far better off simply supplementing with a good probiotic and a nice complement of natural immune boosters, and pathogen destroyers...

See also:

The Truth Behind the Spinach Scare: Cheap Beef

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