E coli outbreak in Europe from "tainted vegetables" - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-01-2011, 06:45 AM
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I wasn't quite sure where to put this but I hope this is the correct forum:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_contam...etables_europe

What disturbs me is that the outbreak seems to be coming from vegetables. I know that in the States, animal manure used for or in fertilizer for veggies is the most common reason why vegetables might have E coli and the like, but I thought that Europe had implemented much better practices regarding the raising of food and cattle and such.

I'm also worried because I'm going on a week vacation with my parents and aunt to German (where Germany meets the Austrian border, so don't know what part of Germany that is) at the end of June and we are all big vegetable eaters (and I was looking forward to trying to rely on salads, since I figure that there isn't going to be much for a vegetarian in Germany...) .

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#2 Old 06-01-2011, 12:50 PM
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Austria is to the south of Germany, and so far the outbreaks have been mostly in the north of Germany. It's a very veg-friendly country though, depending on where you're going. You might have a bit of a tough time in very rural weißwurst-and-sauerkraut places in Bavaria, for example, but generally I've never had trouble eating veg here.

Anyhoo, the whole thing is very unsettling. Some people don't eat any fresh fruit and vegetables at all right now. I personally eat less, because it hasn't been found yet which vegetables are the tainted ones. I rely on beans, grains, pasta and frozen vegetables for now mostly. What makes me really angry is that because of the shameful practices of the meat industry (making the animals sick) I can't even enjoy snacking on my two pounds of raw tomatoes anymore! I'm really ticked off. Thank you, meat-eaters. Thanks for making not just yourself sick, but me too.

Edit: Just had a look at the comments. Gosh, my brain hurts. What's so novel about using manure to fertilize the fields? If the manure wasn't from sick, mistreated and infected cows, the problem wouldn't be there, end of story.

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#3 Old 06-01-2011, 01:51 PM
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I don't know how it is in Germany, but here in the US it's really from the abysmal conditions they force on the field workers. They don't give them toilet breaks, or even provide facilities, so they relieve themselves right there in the fields. No one wants this to leak out though, so they always manage to find some farm to blame it on.

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#4 Old 06-01-2011, 02:49 PM
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We go to north Germany for a few days from Friday :s to Bremen where there have been cases and which is not far from Hamburg which is the worst hit. I'm sad as I wanted to go to a restaurant with vegetable sushi but that's probably not a good idea what with the raw veg :/ whole thing is a bit of a worry really!
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#5 Old 06-01-2011, 02:51 PM
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Or even better if the cows weren't there they could fertilise the fields with nice, rich, vegetable-based compost veganic farming ftw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kjesta View Post

Austria is to the south of Germany, and so far the outbreaks have been mostly in the north of Germany. It's a very veg-friendly country though, depending on where you're going. You might have a bit of a tough time in very rural weißwurst-and-sauerkraut places in Bavaria, for example, but generally I've never had trouble eating veg here.

Anyhoo, the whole thing is very unsettling. Some people don't eat any fresh fruit and vegetables at all right now. I personally eat less, because it hasn't been found yet which vegetables are the tainted ones. I rely on beans, grains, pasta and frozen vegetables for now mostly. What makes me really angry is that because of the shameful practices of the meat industry (making the animals sick) I can't even enjoy snacking on my two pounds of raw tomatoes anymore! I'm really ticked off. Thank you, meat-eaters. Thanks for making not just yourself sick, but me too.

Edit: Just had a look at the comments. Gosh, my brain hurts. What's so novel about using manure to fertilize the fields? If the manure wasn't from sick, mistreated and infected cows, the problem wouldn't be there, end of story.

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#6 Old 06-01-2011, 09:06 PM
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When I was in Germany in '86 I ate often in Italian restaurants. I wasn't a veggie type yet, but remember there being meat-free stuff. It was a nice break from my wurst twice a day diet. (Ate from street stalls a LOT).

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#7 Old 06-02-2011, 09:39 AM
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who will be preparing your food? I think the main advisory was to wash them.... I mean, its not IN the vegetables its ON them. Thats how ecoli and eggs or veggies works as far as I know, its not IN them its ON them, from feces.... wash them and you should be better off... if you want to risk it that way. I mean, they use manure all the time, and just wash them before they get to market usually, I assume....
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#8 Old 06-02-2011, 10:38 AM
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I thought that e-coli often came from the manure of grain fed cattle.....the cattle should be eating grass, and the grain changes the pH levels(lowers or highers, I can't remember) in their gut allowing e-coli to grow.

eta:
Quote:
E. coli

Escherichia coli, although considered to be part of the normal gut flora for many mammals (including humans), has many strains. Strain E. coli 0157:H7 is associated with human illness (and sometimes death) as a foodborne illness. A study by Cornell University [25] has determined that grass-fed animals have as much as 80% less of this strain of E. coli in their guts than their grain-fed counterparts, though this reduction can be achieved by switching an animal to grass only a few days prior to slaughter. Also, the amount of E. coli they do have is much less likely to survive our first-line defense against infection: stomach acid. This is because feeding grain to cattle makes their normally pH-neutral digestive tract abnormally acidic; over time, the pathogenic E. coli becomes acid-resistant.[26] If humans ingest this acid-resistant E. coli via grain-feed beef, a large number of them may survive past the stomach, causing an infection.[27] A study by the USDA Meat and Animal Research Center in Lincoln Nebraska (2000) has confirmed the Cornell research.[28][dubiousdiscuss]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_feeding#Diseases

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#9 Old 06-02-2011, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannah&me View Post

who will be preparing your food? I think the main advisory was to wash them.... I mean, its not IN the vegetables its ON them. Thats how ecoli and eggs or veggies works as far as I know, its not IN them its ON them, from feces.... wash them and you should be better off... if you want to risk it that way. I mean, they use manure all the time, and just wash them before they get to market usually, I assume....

We are just staying in a hotel so it's going to be restaurants... I'm informed that cooked food is safer than raw so plan to steer clear of the salads!
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#10 Old 06-02-2011, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blobbenstein View Post

I thought that e-coli often came from the manure of grain fed cattle.....the cattle should be eating grass, and the grain changes the pH levels(lowers or highers, I can't remember) in their gut allowing e-coli to grow.

From what I understand, some e coli is naturally occuring in lots of animals' feces. The issue is that it grows to a high concentration at feed lots, making it more probable that it will infect the final "product" (beef) or another product (spinach, etc.). The actual cause may be cattle that are fed corn but it might also be close quarters of feed lots and/or the fattening process (more food into the cow = more food in intestine = more intestinal bacteria) and/or other causes. Though it does seem like the corn is at least mostly to blame:
Quote:
Early results of tests by the USDA's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) indicate that E. coli O157:H7 in cattle manure, and on cattle hides, may be more prevalent for cattle whose corn-based feed contains what's known as "wet distiller's grains with solubles," or WDGS. [...]
Both pastured and feedlot cattle can harbor the microbe, which has no affect on them but can make humans sick. The pathogen is shed in manure and, if it gets on hides, can contaminate meat and equipment at slaughter and beyond. The more bacteria in the manure, the greater the risk of potential contamination.

source:
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/0...oli-in-cattle/

It should be noted that in the US, cattle carcas can be labeled "grass fed" but that doesn't mean the animal got to roam freely on a pasture.

Quote:
Cows may be confined and grass-fed. Label does not equate to grazing in a pasture. The label may include in small print "grain-finished," indicating that the cow spent some time confined in a feedlot.

source: http://humanefacts.com/labels.htm

New news reports this particular strain is novel.
Quote:
"This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before," Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization, told The Associated Press. The new strain has "various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing" than the many E. coli strains people naturally carry in their intestines. [...]

Some scientists suspect the deadly E. coli might have been in manure used to fertilize vegetables.

Kruse said it is not uncommon for bacteria to evolve and swap genes. It is difficult to explain where the new strain came from, she said, but bacteria from humans and animals easily trade genes.

Previous E. coli outbreaks have mainly hit children and the elderly, but this one is disproportionately affecting adults, especially women. Kruse said there might be something particular about the bacteria strain that makes it more dangerous for adults.

source:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43248315...h-food_safety/

What's sad is that when people hear about any kind of food poisoning and then they find out what food it came from, their interest stops. They don't generally look any further to find the actual cause. Most Americans have no idea that most food poisoning comes from animal products or foods contaminated by them.
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#11 Old 06-04-2011, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by SomebodyElse View Post

I don't know how it is in Germany, but here in the US it's really from the abysmal conditions they force on the field workers. They don't give them toilet breaks, or even provide facilities, so they relieve themselves right there in the fields. No one wants this to leak out though, so they always manage to find some farm to blame it on.

Yes that's true and people try to blame it all on cow manure-which is a crock of Bee Ess.

Countless times we've seen problems with produce traced back to the miserable conditions field workers are forced to endure-not just in North America but in Central and South America as well.
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#12 Old 06-06-2011, 10:04 AM
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i was going to throw out there another link that i got today.....but for 30+ yrs here in the states, we've been dealing with drug resistant bacteria due to low dose antibiotics in animal feed which almost immediately caused drug resistance. this article was really interesting! the drug resistance has carried over to humans and is a big source for our MRSA and other drug resistant organisms


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#13 Old 06-06-2011, 10:28 AM
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Oi, just a few hours ago they said on the news that now the German health officials don't think that they can trace it back to the sprouts after all, as all the tests so far have come back negative.

Most our veg at home come from a local farm, but some comes from the supermarket. Feeding the girls at work each day, I use primarily supermarket veg though, from who knows where. We wash the veg obviously, and our hands before eating as well, but still a bit worrying at times.

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#14 Old 06-06-2011, 05:44 PM
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#15 Old 06-07-2011, 06:50 AM
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Yeah, they've been saying here that cooking is the best option. Even then, it sounds like you have to *really* cook it.

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#16 Old 06-07-2011, 06:57 AM
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I would guess that the e.coli would actually be in the vegetables, rather than just on the surface, as it might have been in the water that the plants grew in.

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#17 Old 06-07-2011, 12:21 PM
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Well I'm back... Waiting 8 days to see if I get sick :/ didn't eat any raw veg there but ate a lot in restaurants so can't guarantee how well they cooked everything! One of the restaurants specifically said that they weren't serving salad just in case, which inspired confidence. My brother had beansprouts though so I'm glad they said it's not that.
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#18 Old 06-08-2011, 09:28 AM
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I'm a bit confused about all this. I've been avoiding salad veg just in case (although I ate some tomato the other day without thinking.)
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#19 Old 06-09-2011, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Pixie View Post

I'm a bit confused about all this. I've been avoiding salad veg just in case (although I ate some tomato the other day without thinking.)

I think British salad is fine, you can get British lettuce, tomatoes and cabbage easily enough this time of year.
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#20 Old 06-10-2011, 12:45 AM
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I live in Cologne, Germany so I have to eat the vegetables. I'm located sort of by the Belgian border. I've just been trying one thing at a time to see what's ok. It's worrying though when I feed my kids and I'm not sure what works. There haven't been any reported ecoli cases in this city so far so I think it's ok to eat veggies from the supermarket. So far radishes, green onions, tomatoes and bell pepper are ok.
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#21 Old 06-10-2011, 02:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IamJen View Post

Yeah, they've been saying here that cooking is the best option. Even then, it sounds like you have to *really* cook it.

From what little I've read, they recommend cooking meat to at least 71 degrees C (160 degrees F). I assume the same temperature would hold for cooking vegetables.

ETA: I read some other articles that had different things to say.
1) The temps were not temps to cook the food, but temps to be achieved when re-heating pre-cooked food.
2) Some meats had recommended temps of 185 F or more.
3) One article said that if you cooked something to an inadequate temperature, say, 140 F, this would actually make the e coli bacteria heat-resistant and make the situation worse. One lesson from this is not to cook so as to raise the temperature slowly.
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