As spinach makes a slow return to store shelves, tips for helping prevent food-borne illness at home
By WENDI WINTERS, For The Capital
Raw spinach is popping up in supermarkets again.
See the E. coli Q&A and the end of this story.
The vegetable that once was rescued from obscurity by Popeye the Sailor Man has taken a beating since late August when it was linked to a national E. coli outbreak that has killed at least one woman and sickened 182 others in 26 states.
The leafy greens now join a rogues' gallery of temporarily banned fresh foods that in recent years have included bean sprouts, bagged lettuce, unpasteurized apple cider, apple juice, raw milk and hamburger meat.
In this latest outbreak, close to 100 people have been hospitalized after eating bagged, raw spinach. The culprit a particularly nasty form of E. coli called 0157:H7.
"E. coli 0157:H7 causes diarrhea, often with blood stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome," according to the Food and Drug Administration. "HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death."
That's what happened to Marion Graff, 77, of Manitowoc, Wis., who died after eating the tainted spinach. Two others, including an 86-year-old woman from Maryland and a 2-year-old Idaho boy, also may have acquired their deadly E. coli infections from eating bagged spinach.
In mid-September, the Food and Drug Administration advised consumers to stop eating fresh spinach or products containing fresh spinach until further notice. More recently, they've said spinach grown outside Californian's Salinas Valley was safe to eat.
"Our foods in this country are very safe," says Dr. Douglas S. Dykman, a gastroenterologist with Anne Arundel Gastroenterology and Maryland Center for Digestive Health, at 820 Bestgate Road. "But,no system is perfect. The number of E. coli outbreaks is small, contrasted to the amount of spinach served over the years.
"Once this is cleared up, it'll be a reasonable risk to eat spinach, just as reasonable a risk to cross the street."
The culprit for this particular outbreak appears to be "animal runoff or indigenous wild species coming through and eating and defecating."
"This particular strain of E. coli happened from contamination from human or animal fecal matter," says Dr. Dykman. "The kind that occurs in poorly cooked chopped meat."
The best way to avoid E. coli is to make sure you thoroughly wash any fruits or vegetables you plan to eat raw, even bagged produce that's marked "pre-washed." It's also important to prepare foods on a clean work surface.
He shuddered at the thought of dumping a salad mix directly from the bag onto the plate.
"Use common sense," Dr. Dykman says.
But fresh produce isn't the only source of E. coli outbreaks. Undercooked meats have had their share of time in the limelight as well.
In 1993, Jack-in-the-Box fast food restaurants served E. coli-tainted burgers that infected scores of customers.
"They cooked them on a griddle, instead of flame-broiling like Burger King, says Dr. Dykman. "They would throw on 100 frozen burger patties at a time. This cooled down the griddle and the burgers weren't thoroughly cooked."
One lasting impact from that outbreak is the fact you can no longer order your burger rare.
"Now, all burgers are required to be cooked all the way through," says Dr. Dykman. "No more rare hamburgers."
For now, the FDA is adding spinach to its Lettuce Safety Initiative, meaning it will closely monitor spinach growing, handling and packaging practices with an eye toward improving safety.
But while all this was developing, spinach was pulled from supermarket shelves and restaurant menus, only recently making a return at some places.
At the Eastport Boatyard Bar & Grill, the restaurant's general manager, Tammy Reece, has removed its popular spinach salad from the menu.
"It's off the menu for good," says owner Dick Franyo said.
The Roly Poly takeout, located in a strip mall on Bestgate Road in Annapolis, summed up the frustration of restaurant owners and grocers everywhere with the sign it posted prominently in its shop: "Due to FDA recommendations, we will not be serving spinach on any of our tasty, delicious wraps until further notice. We run a clean shop, and this whole tainted spinach thing has nothing to do with us. You could eat spinach off our floor, and still not get sick, that's how clean this place is. Really, check out our health department inspection certificates if you don't believe me. "We apologize for the inconvenience. - The Management"
Fred Parmenter, a curriculum coordinator at the Hotel Culinary and Tourism Institute of Anne Arundel Community College, reacted quickly when the first FDA warning came.
"We threw all the product away and stopped using it in our menu and our curriculum," he says. "We won't make a move back to it, even products locally grown, until the federal government says it's OK."
作者:admin@医学,生命科学 2011-01-15 17:14