They Hate Us for Our Antioxidants

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The specter of spinach terror is upon us:

This month's outbreak of E. coli on spinach from California left many worried about the safety of our food. Others contemplated terrorism.

"E. coli is a problem wherever it shows up," said Paul Welsh of food360, a Lenexa publishing group focused on the food industry. "You probably wouldn't have even thought terrorism before, but now we have to."

Indeed, that's the subject of the second annual International Symposium on Agroterrorism that starts today at the Westin Crown Center hotel.

News accounts containing rough approximations of the sentence: "While there is technically no evidence that contaminated spinach is directly connected to Islamo-fascists trying to kill us, experts say… " here, here, here and here.

USA Today has a good (and terror-free!) article on the push for greater FDA oversight of Big Spinach. Voluntary safety guidelines may be made mandatory, but given that no one knows what caused the contamination, it's hard to know what practices would have prevented it.

I stare down the threat of catfish terrorism here.

NEXT: Time To Wash Off That Sulphur

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  1. I can’t wait for stories that read:

    “Terrorists consider using Burton’s Batman plot device against ‘infidel west'”

    al Qaida operatives left a screening of Tim Burton’s 1990 flush with new ideas. Some wondered aloud “why hadn’t we thought of that?”. The Jihad-minded terrorists were particularly impressed by scene in which the Joker holds Gotham City hostage by tainting common household products with components of his smilex nerve agent that would work only when combined.

    “It’s so simple, people won’t know whether they can wash, comb their hair, bruch their teeth. what they can eat. It will be utter chaos. Imagine what we could do with that?” said an anonymous source.

  2. I thought the spinach was infected with the bad E. coli by being irrigated with groundwater that was in turn contaminated by runoff from a feedlot? How does anyone connect this to the Islamocommienazipolyesternutzoids? Is it possible any longer to discuss ANY public policy issue without immediately connecting it to terrorism?

  3. Karen-

    What if the terrorists dug channels to divert that runoff to a farm field instead of a creek?

    What if the channels were dug by terrorists who snuck across the border illegally and got jobs as farmhands paid under the table?

    Can you discount that possibility? Shouldn’t we take steps to prevent it?

    If it saves just one life…

  4. thoreau, you have succeeded in the highest goal of Internet humor; making me snort soda out my nose. (the only Coke I’ve ever snorted, actually.) I’m going to be on the lookout for Osama’s legions of fruit-picking doom now.

  5. Is it possible any longer to discuss ANY public policy issue without immediately connecting it to terrorism?

    No. Now stay on message.

  6. You sheep actually believe the irrigation-water story? It’s just a coverup to hide the fact that due to lax security, terrorists were able to cross our borders, drop their pants and shit on our spinach.

    But since I don’t eat salads anyway, I’m not concerned.

  7. Grr. Dirty Islamofascists, coming here and wiping their left hands all over our leafy vegetables…

    That’s it, I’m voting for Tancredo.

  8. Considering most leafy vegetables sit in a layer of shit for fertilization purposes, it’s mildly surprising that more of these “outbreaks” don’t happen.

    Then there’s the theory that a bunch of asshats forgot to wash their hands, one or two said they had bagged spinach, and all sorts of connections were made (by hyper-type persons).

    Is this “outbreak” really signficantly far outside of the statistical noise of e. coli cases in this country?

  9. Timon 19,

    “Considering most leafy vegetables sit in a layer of shit for fertilization purposes, it’s mildly surprising that more of these “outbreaks” don’t happen.”

    Sitting a layer of shit isn’t a problem. It’s when the shit gets sprayed onto the leaves that the problem occurs.

  10. I thought all terrorists were “agro,” by definition.

  11. Sitting [on] a layer of shit isn’t a problem. It’s when the shit gets sprayed onto the leaves that the problem occurs.

    A comment on journalistic practices?

  12. I don’t know. This seems way too statistically insignificant to be something other than a self-fulfilling prophecy following a couple of panicked reports. Once the first few cases happened and were linked (correctly or not) to shit-laden spinach, everyone was looking for e. coli and attributing it to spinach with ever-decreasing care to find the actual reason.

  13. Sitting a layer of shit isn’t a problem. It’s when the shit gets sprayed onto the leaves that the problem occurs.

    Organic farmers are not supposed to use manure for fertilizer until it has been cured. Sitting out in the sun for a few months is supposed to kill the bacteria.

    The claim is that this came form irrigation water which was absorbed into the leaves through the roots. This supposedly made washing ineffective.

    I’m not sure why cooking would not take care of the problem though.

  14. I’m not sure why cooking would not take care of the problem though.

    It would. Problem is, the contaminated spinach was sold as “ready-to-eat.” It was used in things like salads, not for actual cooking.

  15. BTW, the irrigation-system contamination theory is still tentative.

  16. It would. Problem is, the contaminated spinach was sold as “ready-to-eat.” It was used in things like salads, not for actual cooking.

    Jennifer

    While early adviseries suggested cooking the later ones said to discard spinach and not trying to cook it.

    The only thing that made the spinach “ready to eat” was the fact that it was washed. I wash fresh vegetables whether I’m going to cook them or eat them raw. I do like packaged greens for the convenience, though. And part of that convenience is not having to wash them first.

    Again the adviseries were saying that neither cooking nor washing would protect you.

    BTW, the irrigation-system contamination theory is still tentative.

    joe

    I think it’s the one everyone likes though. It relieves the organic farmers of the responsibility of dealing with whether they are treating manure properly before using it.

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