wickipedia -- vegetarian food poisoning
Even the experts can be wrong!
Food safety E. coli
Vegetarianism is believed to reduce E. coli infections, and proponents point to the link between E.coli contaminations in
food and industrial scale meat and dairy farms. The most recent E. coli outbreak has once again demonstrated this link
because the source of this E. coli was traced back to "a large ranch in the Salinas Valley that has a beef cattle
operation" about a half-mile from the spinach fields where spinach became contaminated.
Vegetarianism can not reduce E. coli infections when E. coli contaminated effluent and sludge are used to produce
crops, used on parks and school grounds and sold to you as a soil amendment. While the smoking gun appears to
place the blame of E. coli contamination on cattle operations and dairy farms, you need to look at where the fodder and
water come from. The same is true for the E. coli contaminated spinach in Salinas Valley where sewage effluent is used
to irrigate about 12,000 acres of crops. We also need to look at the composted sewage sludge/manure used in the
valley which also contain disease organisms..
There are several variants of E. coli and they can be found in a healthy human gut, but the deadly strain, O157:H7 was
virtually unheard of until the 1980's. It is believed that this strain evolved in the digestive system of grain fed cattle on
large industrial farms. On these farms, grain is used as cattle feed because it is nutrient-packed and increases
efficiency. A side effect of feeding grain to cattle is that it increases the acidity of their stomach - and it is in this acidic
gut that the deadly O157:H7 thrives.
Actually, there was very little infection among cattle and dairy operations prior to 1980, when EPA, USDA, FDA, and
CDC were developing their policy to use disease contaminated sewage effluent and sludge as a fertilizer on food crops
as well as your lawn. EPA and others have documented the sewage treatment process creates new drug resistant
strains of disease organisms. Then we also need to consider the 1980 US PATENT: 4237224 SERIES CODE: 6,
Process for producing biologically functional molecular chimeras, (a monstrous organism made of the parts of multiple
disease organisms never before seen in nature).
In 2003, an article in the Journal of Dairy Science found that between 30 and 80 percent of cattle carry E. coli
O157:H7. In that same journal article, a quick fix was pointed out: Cows that are switched from a grain diet to a
forage diet saw, within 5 days, a 1,000 fold decrease in the abundance of strain O157. But until changes like this are
made, the source of many E. coli outbreaks will continue to be high-yield meat and dairy farms.
While there is no argument with the fact that 30 to 80 percent of cattle carry E. coli 0157:H7, however, there is no
possibility of a quick fix until cattle are no longer exposed to E. coli 0157:H7 in sewage sludge amended pastures or
your children are no longer exposed to sewage effluent and sludge at home or on public property such as parks and
More likely, rather than change the way cattle are fed or raised on industrial farms there will instead be pressure to find
technological solutions like food irradiation, plans for HACCP, or simply cooking burgers longer. Suggestions like this
have led some experts, like Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley, Michael Pollan, to
suggest that "All of these solutions treat E. coli O157:H7 as an unavoidable fact of life rather than what it is: a fact of
There is indeed pressure from misinformed people to find a technological solution like irradiation to solve the E. coli
problem. However, there are over 1,400 disease organisms and irradiation does not destroy all of the disease
organisms. Cooking hamburger longer is not a solution to bacteria and viruses in and on produce. Professor Pollan is
partially right, however, E. coli contaminated sewage effluent and sludge disposal on famland and your lawn is not a fact
of industrial agriculture -- it is a fact of national policy developed by EPA based on exclusions in federal law.
Advocates such as Howard Lyman and groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have promoted
vegetarianism in response to cases of E.coli infection.
Disease and chemical contaminated sewage sludge disposal was primarily restricted to agriculture prior to 1989, which
mostly exposed animals, even though the policy to use sewage effluent and sludge on food crops was developed in the
early 1980s. After 1989, EPA promoted the policy of using sewage effluent and sludge on food crops as well as selling
or giving away sludge as an unlabelled soil amendment and fertilizer. Since EPA was aware that the treatment
processes stressed bacteria and made them unculturable by standard lab test for a short period of time, EPA policy
only required that most coliforms be undetectable or at low levels after treatment.
However, it must be noted that E.coli can be acquired from any excrement-contaminated food or human commensal
bacteria. The recent case of spinach with E.coli contamination in USA shows that vegetarian foods are also susceptible
to food safety concerns. In 2005, some people who had consumed branded triple-washed, pre-packaged lettuce
were infected with E. Coli. In fact E. coli outbreaks have also involved unpasteurized apple and orange juice, milk,
alfalfa sprouts, and even water.
It is estimated that some 5 to 7 million tons of disease sewage sludge is disposed of as a soil amendment or fertilizer
annually. Most of the disease contaminated sewage sludge is disposed as a fertilizer for crops and pastures. However,
a large part of the disease contaminated sludge is sold as an unlabelled soil amendment for lawns and gardens.
Sewage effluent (reclaimed water) is promoted as safe to use as irrigation for food crops grown for human consumption
and produce eaten raw. Even considering that bacteria may be undetectable for a short period of time to meet the
current standards, treatment plants are subject to failure from time to time releasing large amounts of untreated
(unstressed or uninjured) disease organisms. That is a little like playing Russian Roulette with your food supply.