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There is literally excrement in your salad: Fecal bacteria contamination widespread

Thursday, April 22, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: salad, feces, health news

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(NaturalNews) A recent Consumer Reports investigation has revealed that bagged salads labeled "pre-washed" or "triple-washed" may not be as clean as they appear. Of the 208 samples taken from 16 different brands of bagged salad, researchers found that nearly 40 percent of them were tainted with bacteria often found in fecal material.

The tainted salads were not contaminated with more serious bacteria like salmonella or E. coli, but 39 percent of them did contain coliform levels that exceeded 10,000 colony forming units per gram (CFU/g) and 23 percent of them contained enterococcus levels exceeding 10,000 CFU/g. Industry experts generally agree that acceptable levels of these types of bacteria for leafy greens should be below 10,000 CFU/g.

Coliform bacteria does not necessarily come from feces, but high levels of the types found in some bagged salads does suggest that poor sanitation practices likely caused fecal contamination. A few of the samples tested fell into this category, having coliform levels of up to one million CFU/g.

"Although these 'indicator' bacteria generally do not make healthy people sick, the tests show not enough is being done to assure the safety or cleanliness of leafy greens," said Dr. Michael Hansen, publisher of Consumer Reports.

Federal guidelines have established upper limit maximums of coliform contamination for water, milk, raw meats, and processed foods, but these do not currently apply to produce. Many believe that federal laws need to be amended to include protections for produce, despite the fact that federal regulation often fails to address the root causes of food contamination when addressing contamination and outbreaks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also admitted that trace amounts of salmonella can be found in about two out of every 4,000 bags of salad. Salmonella is transmitted through human or animal feces that comes into contact with food.

Though not explained by the mainstream media, salmonella outbreaks in food are typically caused by cattle feedlot runoff. Rain and other natural environmental factors can spread bacteria-laden animal waste from toxic feedlots to nearby crop fields, spreading disease and contaminating water supplies.

While the salad study points to the fact that better sanitation standards are probably needed by produce processors, the bigger problem with food contamination is the filthy industrial food system in general. Rather than give any more power to federal authorities who refuse to acknowledge and go after the real problem, concerned citizens should prod these regulatory agencies to admit that the system is broken and go after corporate agribusiness which is the primary culprit in food contamination.

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