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Tracking the source is more difficult than you think
America tries to eat its vegetables, so the recent Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak has brought all of Caesar's salad fans to those the barely tolerated A splash of greens in a taco on high alert.
But how did these seemingly innocent little leaves become deadly?
Centers for Disease Control counted 121 cases in 25 states from the Romaine lettuce bred in the Yuma, Arizona region, including [1,945,022] one death and 52 hospitalizations. Fourteen people suffered from kidney failure. The victims are between one and 88 years old.
We sent men to the moon. Many of us carry tiny computers in our pockets. Why can not we keep the romaine lettuce safe and clean? Here are some reasons why salad is so vulnerable and why finding the source of a bacterial outbreak can be difficult.
America's hearts salad, especially women's
Thanks to the national wellness trend that is being adopted by healthy millennials and aging baby boomers, the consumption of fresh vegetables as opposed to frozen or preserved varieties is on the rise. Add to this the growing popularity of salato-oriented restaurants, such as Tender Greens and Sweetgreen, and the increasing inclusion of salads in the menus of fast food chains.
According to the latest data from market research firm Mintel, 70% of vegetables sold in the US in 2016 were fresh products, 13% more than in 2011, but grow at a 39% clip since then is freshly sliced lettuce, now 11% of what's in stores. It is expected that fresh vegetables will increase by 9% and fresh salads by 33% by 2021.
"The purchase of household vegetables is universal and heavily influenced by fresh produce, and 97% of consumers bought fresh produce last month," said Mintel
the group most affected by the E. coli outbreak of Romaine lettuce is concerned, is the woman. According to the CDC, 63% of the people affected by this episode are female. (19659013) CLOSE
The CDC says death in California has been linked to a national Roma salad food poisoning outbreak. To date, 121 people have become ill in 25 states. Fifty-two people were hospitalized. (May 3)
Accuse Mother Nature
Fields where products are grown are subject to the whims of Mother Nature and her animals. Fruits and vegetables grow in the dirt and can be fertilized with fertilizer. Bugs and birds are flying around. Animals can run wild through even fenced fields – or defecate in rivers and lakes used to irrigate nearby farms. Growing up outdoors means many ways for bacteria to get in the picture.
"The stuff has grown outdoors in nature. It can not be bacteria-free, virus-free, parasite-free," University of Florida food safety expert Keith Schneider said. "We do our best, the farmers jump through many expensive tires to make the food as clean as possible, but nature can intervene."
Salad is naturally unprotected
Unlike some of its fruit and vegetable brothers, salad has nothing to keep it safe. The lack of rinds and shells – such as those found in a watermelon and a cucumber – gives the bacteria countless entry points. A head of lettuce has tons of nooks and crannies where the nasty stuff can hide, making leafy vegetables much more vulnerable than other thin-skinned but firm and easy-to-clean products like tomatoes.
"The population decides to eat foods inherently more risky," said Matthew Stasiewicz, assistant professor of applied food safety at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign of products, as opposed to canned foods. "Realistically there is no activity in life that carries no risk."
Removal can make the problem grow faster
The days when the whole year is only produced by nearby farms are long gone. As the national food supply becomes more sophisticated, we can grow and pack food in one central location, preserve and ship in the US
Despite the ease, the social media and 24-hour news cycles are spreading warnings about food outbreaks Point A to Point E Remains Complicated
Convenience Can Lead to Sickness
The extra phase of processing the romaine lettuce – whether chopping or simply packaging – provides more opportunities for bacteria to sneak in.
"When all the lettuce from the field is clean, you take it to the packing house and the equipment is contaminated," said Schneider. "We can contaminate all things that go over our belts."
A Raw Shop
Foods that you eat raw, like lettuce, miss a cooking phase that can kill off bacteria. What the industry has termed a "killing step" holds back an important opportunity to get rid of food poisoning particles. For example, applesauce, which is exposed to heat as part of the preparation, is far less problematic than a raw apple from Red Delicious. Health officials therefore preach the importance of thoroughly cooking meat and poultry and avoiding unpasteurised dairy products. Washing is the key to production.
It may take a while for the disease to be reported
After April 11, romaine salad worshipers may not have reported it yet. The average delay is two to three weeks.
"One of the biggest challenges in identifying sources of foodborne illness is that people eat a lot," Stasiewicz said. "There's also a big problem with remembering what they eat – if you're eating a complex meal like a sandwich or burrito, you may not even know what you're eating."
The evidence is often thrown
Fresh produce has a short shelf-life, especially fast-selling salads, and when the inspector made it to your home, the culprit would have been there, um, thrown.
While you know what your favorite breakfast cereal is, you're probably not remembering the name of the company that makes your salad. Do not forget to remember the brand of lettuce heads or hearts you buy. This makes the pursuit more difficult.
"Without a bag, a number for a farm, you do not know where it was packed and what farm it came from," said Schneider.
And even if, miraculously, the spoiled salad bearing the name of the packer or farm, the crops were harvested as soon as the inspectors arrived.
Solving the problem is not simply a matter of "salad CSI," says Schneider. More Money: Home buyers pay attention: The most expensive real estate markets in some states cost an average of $ 750,000 plus  19659006] More money: From their parents' cellars to dream homes: Millennials skip starter homes
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