(NaturalNews) Spinach has long been used as a natural healing aid. Spinach is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It boosts the immune system, builds red blood cells, provides energy, and is a good source of protein. Spinach has received a lot of negative press in the past due to an E. coli outbreak which was traced to a commercial grower. A recent clinical study indicates that spinach samples have been contaminated with over a thousand different kinds of bacteria. The 2011 study proved that proper refrigeration decreases the bacteria present on fresh spinach by over 50%.
Spinach has an extensive history as a healing aid
Pubmed has published a long list of experiments performed with spinach. Spinach has been proven to help heal osteoporosis, hypoglycemia, heart disease, and brain function.
Spinach is used traditionally as a detoxifier and helps to raise blood hematocrit levels due to the high iron content contained within its leaves.
A California CAFO was blamed for the 2006 contaminated spinach incident
In 2006, almost three hundred people fell ill after eating fresh, organic spinach which had been contaminated with E. coli. The spinach was traced to a small organic grower in California. Half of the people poisoned with E. coli were hospitalized, and three deaths were reported. The FDA ordered all bagged spinach to be removed from store shelves, strongly cautioning consumers not to eat fresh spinach.
At first, the Centers for Disease Control believed that the spinach was contaminated by irrigated water which contained cattle feces from a nearby Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Later it was determined that the contamination came from groundwater runoff from a nearby Angus cattle ranch.
Pyrosequencing is a ground-breaking new technology heralded by geneticists
Since the 2006 E. coli outbreak, there have been several research studies performed to determine the safety of fresh packaged spinach. The latest study was published in May, 2011 in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. Using a new technology known as pyrosequencing, scientists found not only E. coli, but over 1000 different kinds of bacteria on fresh spinach leaves. A full 75% of these bacteria strains had never been described as being on spinach before.
Pyrosequencing is a new technology being used by geneticists. Using pyrosequencing, scientists are able to accurately analyze DNA sequences. In the spinach study, scientists found that keeping spinach below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) for a day cut the number of bacteria present on the spinach by over 50%.
Proper handling of fresh spinach
"Ready to eat" fresh spinach cannot be considered ready to eat. Because of the possibility that fresh spinach may be contaminated with toxic bacteria, safe handling procedures should be observed. Consumers of bagged spinach leaves should not eat it right out of the bag or container. All commercially grown fresh spinach should be thoroughly washed and refrigerated for a day before eating it.
Pubmed.gov. "Dietary supplementation with blueberries, spinach, or spirulina reduces ischemic brain damage," Y. Wang, et al. Experimental Neurology May 2005; 193(1): 75-84. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15817266
Pubmed.gov. "Changes in spinach phylloepiphytic bacteria communities following minimal processing and refrigerated storage described using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA amplicons," G. Lopez-Velasco, et al. Journal of Applied Microbiology May 2011; 110(5): 1203-14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21371219