NEW YORK (AP) — Avoid all romaine lettuce, but don’t worry about your turkey.
With two food poisoning outbreaks making headlines before Thanksgiving, the messages about what’s safe to eat can be hard to keep straight. Here’s what you should know before you sit down for dinner.
WHAT LETTUCE OUTBREAK?
On Tuesday, U.S. health officials issued an unusually broad warning against all types of romaine lettuce amid an E. coli outbreak. They asked restaurants and grocers to stop selling it, people to stop eating it and everyone to throw it all out.
Thirty-two illnesses in 11 states have been linked to romaine. Canada also was affected, with 18 illnesses in Ontario and Quebec. No deaths have been reported.
WASN’T THERE ALREADY A ROMAINE OUTBREAK THIS YEAR?
Yes. The strain of E. coli in the current outbreak differs from the one linked to romaine earlier this year that sickened about 200 people and killed five. But it appears similar to the strain identified in a 2017 outbreak that happened around the same time of year.
That outbreak was linked to “leafy greens,” but a specific supplier or vegetable was never identified in the U.S.
This time, officials were able to issue an alert earlier and specifically warn against romaine because of information collected through interviews with people who got sick, said Laura Gieraltowski, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ARE VEGETABLES CAUSING MORE FOOD POISONING?
Improved detection may be driving up the number of outbreaks tied to produce. But the way food is produced is another consideration.
Timothy Lytton, a professor of law at Georgia State University, noted that large cattle feeding lots could be a contributing factor.
WHAT DO COWS HAVE TO DO WITH E. COLI GETTING INTO LETTUCE?
Huge numbers of cows produce large quantities of animal waste. And bacteria from cattle feces can migrate into the water used to irrigate produce fields, Lytton said.
In fact, tainted irrigation water was identified as a likely source of this year’s previous E. coli outbreak linked to romaine from the Yuma, Arizona, region.
WHAT’S BEING DONE?
After the Yuma outbreak, growers in California and Arizona increased the buffer zones between animal lots and produce fields, from 400 feet to 1,200 feet. Teressa Lopez, an administrator with the Arizona Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, also noted that growers in the state started treating water that runs near animal lots. The treatment, which kills pathogens, is used on water that is going to be used on produce.
IS MORE REGULATION COMING?
The Food and Drug Administration has new rules to step up the safety of produce, but the implementation is staggered and began just recently. The agency has said inspections won’t start until next year.
Sarah Sorscher of the Center for Science in the Public Interest noted the importance of measures such as testing irrigation water. But a water-testing requirement has been contested and postponed, given the limited availability of tests that can specifically detect the harmful types of E. coli. Ultimately, that rule may not be implemented, Sorscher said.
WHY CAN’T I JUST WASH MY ROMAINE?
Washing doesn’t kill germs like the heat from cooking does. That’s why health officials are warning against all romaine.
According to a 2013 U.S. government report , leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach are the biggest source of food poisoning.
“Any product that we don’t have a cooking step is a bigger issue,” said Martin Wiedmann, a professor of food safety at Cornell.
THEN WHEN CAN I HAVE SALAD AGAIN?
It’s not clear when it will be OK to eat romaine again. Public health officials would want to be able to identify the source of the contamination or see the reported illnesses stop. Romaine has a shelf life of 21 days.
Romaine sold in the U.S. comes from different regions at different times of year. So while the romaine lettuce linked to the E. coli outbreak earlier this year was from Arizona, romaine lettuce on shelves now is mostly from California, regulators said.
Harvesting just recently began shifting back to southern California and Arizona, though most of that product has not started shipping, according to Lopez of the Arizona Leafy Green Marketing Agreement. She said suppliers were asked to withdraw products until health officials are confident the pipeline is clear of contaminated romaine.
WHAT ABOUT TURKEY?
Besides the romaine outbreak, there’s a long-running widespread salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey in the U.S.
Raw meat and poultry is allowed to have salmonella because it’s assumed that people will cook it. That’s why regulators aren’t telling people to avoid it, they’re just reminding people to properly handle and cook their holiday birds.
The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Will America-First News Outlets Make it to 2023?
Things are looking grim for conservative and populist news sites.
There’s something happening behind the scenes at several popular conservative news outlets. 2021 was bad, but 2022 is proving to be disastrous for news sites that aren’t “playing ball” with the corporate media narrative. It’s being said that advertisers are cracking down, forcing some of the biggest ad networks like Google and Yahoo to pull their inventory from conservative outlets. This has had two major effects. First, it has cooled most conservative outlets from discussing “taboo” topics like Pandemic Panic Theater, voter fraud, or The Great Reset. Second, it has isolated those ad networks that aren’t playing ball.
Certain topics are anathema for most ad networks. Speaking out against vaccines or vaccine mandates is a certain path to being demonetized. Highlighting voter fraud in the 2020 and future elections is another instant advertising death penalty. Throw in truthful stories about climate change hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and the border crisis and it’s easy to understand how difficult it is for America-First news outlets to spread the facts, share conservative opinions, and still pay the bills.
Without naming names, I have been told of several news outlets who have been forced to either consolidate with larger organizations or who have backed down on covering certain topics out of fear of being “canceled” by the ad networks. I get it. This is a business for many of us and it’s not very profitable. Those of us who do this for a living are often barely squeaking by, so loss of additional revenue can often mean being forced to make cuts. That means not being able to cover the topics properly. Its a Catch-22: Tell the truth and lose the money necessary to keep telling the truth, or avoid the truth and make enough money to survive. Those who have chosen survival simply aren’t able to spread the truth properly.
We will never avoid the truth. The Lord will provide if it is His will. Our job is simply to share the facts, spread the Gospel, and educate as many Americans as possible while exposing the forces of evil.
To those who have the means, we ask that you please donate. We have options available now, but there is no telling when those options will cancel us. We just launched a new GiveSendGo page. We also have our GivingFuel page. There have been many who have been canceled by PayPal, but for now it’s still an option. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to get the truth to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
Thank you, and God Bless!