Could the Healthiest Food Also be the Deadliest?

The consumer watchdog group CSPI published [PDF] a provocative list of 10 healthy foods that have been involved in large scale contamination in the past few years:

  1. LEAFY GREENS: 363 outbreaks involving 13,568 reported cases of illness
  2. EGGS: 352 outbreaks , 11,163 illness
  3. TUNA: 268 outbreaks , 2341 illness
  4. OYSTERS: 132 outbreaks , 3409 illness
  5. POTATOES: 108 outbreaks , 3659 illness
  6. CHEESE: 83 outbreaks , 2761 illness
  7. ICE CREAM: 74 outbreaks , 2594 illness
  8. TOMATOES: 31 outbreaks , 3292 illness
  9. SPROUTS: 31 outbreaks , 2022 illness
  10. BERRIES: 25 outbreaks , 3397 illness

The group is not trying to scare us away from these foods, it is simply pointing out a fact that the FDA must do a better job of enforcing safety regulations on growers, shippers, and manufacturers. The FDA should be given the tools by law:

the United States Senate should follow the House and pass legislation that reforms our fossilized food safety laws

What you need to know:

Food Safety is something we take for granted when everything is OK. But a rushed trip to the emergency room, fevers, cramps, bloody stools, or worse remind us how fragile we are vs tiny contaminants that find their way into our food. And the grave responsibility of the entire supply chain in providing us safe food.

While we believe that most companies try to maintain high standards of safety, there is always room for improvement. Unfortunately, many times the pressure to cut costs is at odds with additional safety measures.

Just this past January the great peanut butter recall exposed how easy it is for one bad apple (or in this case peanut) to infiltrate hundreds of food items.

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  • Dr. Susan Rubin

    If this isn’t a reason to not eat industrialized food, I don’t know what is. Local and regional food is not yet something discussed by CSPI. If it were, I wonder what the incidence of contamination would be with smaller/ local/ regional food systems. I would guess significantly less. It’s off to the farmer’s market for me!

  • Dave Schy

    Hi Guys,
    I live in the Coachella Valley, a huge farming area in CA. I recently had lunch with a man who is a big grower in the area. He does not talk to many people because he doesn’t have to. I got to tour his farms and see how things are done. It is as big and industrialized as you could imagine. The thing that I found interesting was his take on the situation.
    When I asked him about pesticides he told me all about the ones he uses and how he and his family eat everything he grows. He also pointed out that he was a graduate of Texas A.& M. and has been doing this job for over 30 years.
    On the subject of small farms he just laughed and told me a story about a small farm not far from his that was closed down because nobody on the farm had a license to use the chemicals that they were spraying on their crops. No license, no training and as he said, the only thing between that farmer and starvation was his crop in the field. Think about that!
    Now today is Saturday and I will also be getting my fruits and vegetables at the farmers market as I do twice a week. I thank my lucky stars that I was born in the right time and place to enjoy this healthy option. I just wish I wasn’t so lazy because I would love to grow all of my own.

  • Andrea

    A few years ago it was botulism in carrot juice. I think spinach was around the same time.

  • Lila