The New Scientist: To Make Organic Food Safer Use Irradiation


E.coli like them too

The outbreak of a deadly strain of E. coli in Germany has made nearly 4,000 people ill, killing 48. The strain was traced to organic bean sprouts. What could have been done to prevent this outbreak? In an op/ed in The New Scientist, Dominic Dyer, head of Britain's Crop Protection Association suggests: Food irradiation. From the op/ed:

I WORKED closely with the organic industry for almost a decade, first as head of the UK Food and Drink Federation's Organic Food Manufacturers Group and then as a representative on the UK government's Organic Action Plan Committee. I believe that the growth in the organic food sector has brought many benefits to farmers, food producers and consumers around the world.

The market for organic food has developed rapidly over the past 20 years as more consumers have become willing to pay a premium for products they consider to be both healthier and better for the environment. Although the recent economic downturn has led to a significant reduction in organic food sales, there are now over 170,000 organic farms in Europe, covering almost 2 per cent of the total agricultural land. …

However, in recent years I have become increasingly concerned by the willingness of the organic industry to market its products as both a healthier and safer alternative to conventional food production. They are not. In fact, by shunning science, organic producers could be increasing consumers' risk of contracting Escherichia coli and other food-borne diseases. …

One area where organic production systems might pose a higher health risk is through the use of untreated manure as fertiliser. Studies carried out on organic and conventional produce by Minnesota farmers in 2004 found that E. coli contamination was 19 times greater on organic farms which used manure or compost less than 12 months old than on farms which used older materials.

Although the risks are reduced as manure matures, researchers have found that many pathogenic organisms such as E. coli and salmonella can easily survive up to 60 days or more in compost and in the soil, depending on temperature and the condition of the soil.

Another extra risk factor in organic production is the avoidance of fungicides, which can lead to the growth of moulds and increased risk of mycotoxins such as aflatoxin and ergot in crops.

Taking these risks into account, and with recent events in Germany in mind, I think organic food producers need to focus on risk management. More research should also be done into pathogen survival in the food chain.

I also believe that the organic industry must put aside its suspicion and mistrust of science in food production and look at how it can introduce new systems that reduce the risk of future outbreaks of deadly food-borne diseases such as E. coli.

The real tragedy of the E. coli incident in Germany is that the outbreak could have been prevented if the organic industry had been willing to irradiate their produce. The bean sprout crop that was the source of the outbreak requires a warm and humid environment to grow, which increases the risk of contamination by E. coli and other disease-causing bacteria. The only certain means of reducing this risk is to irradiate the bean sprout seeds, which effectively kills 99.999 per cent of E. coli. There is no evidence that food irradiation is harmful to consumers, and also no evidence that it affects the nutritional quality of food.

The whole op/ed is well worth reading. Let's hope that the organic food community heeds it.

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  1. Or we could admit that organic food is just a terrible idea.

  2. I don’t think it is still considered organic after it has been irradiated.

    1. Why wouldnt it be?

      1. As promised by USDA, the regulations:
        prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms in organic production


        1. Well, that’s just ridiculous. Radiation does nothing to affect the “organicness” of the product.

        2. Do you have a link for that?

    2. Why? Does organic mean “must contain pathogens?”

      1. No, but in the original Iroquois, from which we derive the world, it means, “One who would buy glass beads from Manhattan.”

  3. It’s not a big deal. Take some Radaway after you eat, and everything will be fine.

    1. Or, if you’re out of Radaway, just taking some Rad-X before eating would probably work fine too.

      1. Yes, yes, you are correct to correct my omission.

  4. Let’s hope that the organic food community heeds it.

    Isn’t organic the idea that everything natural is good and everything else is carcinogenic, toxic and evil?

    Doesn’t seem like they would be into irradiation. If it involves a scientist it must be a tool of evil biotech companies.

    1. so I guess they don’t use the highly chlorinated and fluoridated water too, right?

      1. No, they buy bottled water, but have to put it into their fancy plastic, glass, or stainless steel bottles so that people don’t see that it’s 1/2 liter plastic bottles.

        1. +1 insightful

  5. Anyone eating organic bean sprouts probably isn’t enjoying life anyway.

    1. Bean sprouts are great. What the fuck are you talking about?

      1. Just some dark humor. Sprouts and bacon…mmmmmmm.

        1. Bacon grease is the magic ingredient to make greens tasty.

          1. Pork fat, pole beans, happiness. Especially with some cornbread.

          2. But only if it’s organic bacon.

      2. Bean sprouts taste like dirt. Brussels sprouts FTW.

        1. Death to all sprouts.

          1. A Pox upon your sprouts!!!

        2. Brussels sprouts?! Negative.

          Fresh corn from the farm around the corner from my house (for the fucking WIN), peas, broccoli, green beans….in that order. Preferanbly fresh, frozen’s next, canned last.

          Tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cukes, etc is all optional – whenever you can get it.

          Brussels sprouts, Lima beans and asssssparagus are punishment for bad children.

          That is all.

          1. I hated them too, until I saw the bacon at the end of the tunnel. The real trick is too not boil or even blanch them, water makes them mushy and releases the bitter cabbage-ness.

            Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

            1 pound brussel sprouts
            2-4 slices of bacon (or one-two ounces of diced bulk bacon)
            1 clove garlic, crushed and diced
            2 tbspn Red Wine Vinegar

            Pull off limp or discolored leaves from sprouts, trim the stem ends and cut in half through the stem end. Brown off bacon in a lidded skillet over medium heat and then set aside, leaving the fat and fond in the pan. Place sprouts cut side down and fry gently over medium heat. Once the cut side has taken on a good bit of color, shake the skillet to flip most of them on their other side (this is not a step that needs every one flipped over.) With the lid in hand, sprinkle the garlic over the sprouts, wait 30 seconds and add the vinegar as evenly as possible. Clamp on the lid and wait until the vinegar is completely evaporated. (About one minute.) Dice reserved bacon and add to pan. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

            1. This also an excellent way to cook asparagus.

              1. mmmm… bacon.

  6. Organic farming is not a completely terrible idea. It is not going to feed the world, and it really is an arbitrary distinction, but there are real problems caused by overuse of pesticides and fertilizers in conventional farming. Experimenting with other methods of farming can help in developing better ways to farm that have fewer negative impacts in other areas. The problem is that people think that “organic” actually says anything about the quality or nutritional value of the food.

    1. Zoning regs probably prohibit in most places large producers from using a closed cycle that minimized inputs and used all the outputs. Can’t raise animals and vegetables together and then sell to brainless, diaper-wearing consumers. Hence the need for hog shit holding tanks and nitrogen fertilizer.

      1. but yeah, slap a methane bladder on that shit tank and you get energy. enough to run Barter Town.

    2. “but there are real problems caused by overuse of pesticides and fertilizers in conventional farming”

      Which are best solved through science, not ludditism. Unlike government, science actually is a good solution for the problems science causes.

  7. “In fact, by shunning science, organic producers…” are playing to their market.

  8. over the past 20 years..more consumers have become willing to pay a premium for products they consider to be both healthier and better for the environment

    Funny how no one in the organic food industry has ever gotten around to actually demonstrating – proving – the products are in fact actually healthier and better for the environment. They don’t need to. People believe it and there’s no need to start popping people’s fantasy-bubbles when there’s money to be made.

    The whole thing relies on ‘perception’… and because of that, radiation, despite making the food demonstrably safer, will be strongly resisted despite the logic of it.

    They’ve already been doing it for years

    This is my favorite = “how to explain to children why irraditated food is wrong”

    Irradiated foods look fresh, but they’ve really been processed. When you go to a doctor to get an x-ray it is to help you get better. But a piece of fruit might have been exposed to 1 million x-rays. Zap! The force of the energy is so powerful that the inside of the food is messed up. You can’t see it, but some of the cells are broken–just like when you get a bruise on your knee, you can see the blood under the skin from the broken veins. The fruit looks OK but inside some of the vitamins and the enzymes are smashed.

    That’s probably only slightly different than the argument they use with actual ‘adults’

    1. it’s almost certainly better for the environment since pesticides are essentially petrochemicals and nitrogen fertilizers take a shit ton of energy to produce. If energy consumption keeps going like it is at some point conventional farming will not be cost-effective at all.

      1. 90% of the cost of producing NH3NO4 is the cost of the natural gas input. At $8/mcf it is not killing us on an industrial scale. Especially if you count the cost of sterilizing shit before using it as fertilizer.

      2. Better per acre sure, but better per the crop yield?

      3. Are you suggesting the ‘natural’ pesticides used, or the ‘natural’ fertilizers used require *any less* energy?

        BTW = labor and equipment costs/requirements per acre are *significantly higher* for Organic – the total carbon foodprint of organic is higher, and so is the actual topsoil erosion effect because many ‘industrial’ agricultural techniques employ low/no-till practices., etc.…..36949.html

        The report for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found “many” organic products had lower ecological impacts than conventional methods using fertilisers and pesticides. But academics at the Manchester Business School (MBS), who conducted the study, said that was counterbalanced by other organic foods – such as milk, tomatoes and chicken – which are significantly less energy efficient and can be more polluting than intensively-farmed equivalents.

        Ken Green, professor of environmental management at MBS, who co-wrote the report, said: “You cannot say that all organic food is better for the environment than all food grown conventionally. If you look carefully at the amount of energy required to produce these foods you get a complicated picture. In some cases, the carbon footprint for organics is larger.”

        Why you think Organic pesticides are any less bad for the groundwater, etc, is beyond me. You’re saying, “Oh, I want my contamination to be *organic* contamination… cute. As Carlin once said, “Smallpox is ‘organic’..”

  9. People I care about, in descending order of preference:

    1. My wife
    2. My best friend
    3. My brother-in-law
    4. My sister-in-law

    874. Organic food weirdos
    875. European organic food weirdos
    876. European organic food weirdos who eat bean sprouts
    877. Episiarch

    1. Hey, that’s great–Episiarch moved up eight spots from last year. Why the improvement?

      Also, why are American organic food weirdos better than the European variety?

      1. 1) He didn’t move up, some people ahead of him died.

        2) They smell slightly better.

        1. Oh, I see.

        2. Doh! I should read more before replying.

      2. Pro Libertate|6.30.11 @ 9:49AM|#
        Hey, that’s great–Episiarch moved up eight spots from last year. Why the improvement?

        The death of a number of key members of the Taliban, Osama, etc. It’s not what you’d call ‘secular’ growth. The list got shorter.

        1. I’m not list-savvy, clearly. The total elimination of people from the list was not something I had considered.

      3. -Episiarch moved up eight sprouts from last year.

        wait, what?

      1. It’s the little victories that keep us going from day to day.

  10. I demand food that is not biologically derived from carbon!

    Give me inorganic food… NOW!

    1. or give me death

    2. Join the Silicon Society! No carbon, only silicon! And silicon is cheap–just cook it out of beach sand, and voil?, dinner!

      1. and it makes for big boobies on blond orientals

        1. Sand–it’s what’s for dinner.

          Sand–the other white grain.

          1. What about the black sand beaches of Hawaii?


            1. They have a different ad campaign.

              1. “Once You’ve Had Black, You’ll Never Go Back

                Hawaiian Sand”

              2. And less silicate.

                1. Florida sand is a silicacy and, therefore, more expensive.

                  1. Actually, IIANM, Florida sand has a pretty high content of crushed coral and shells, which are mostly calcium carbonate.

                    So Florida sand is organic. You could charge more.


                    1. Awesome. I’m going to go to the beach and collect some organic silicates right now.

                    2. Collect some sea water to make organic sea salt while your at it.

                    3. Organic sea salt.

                      Really. 🙂

                      I guess if sea salt can be organic, sand can be too.

                      The funny thing is that the set of organic food buyers is largely dominated by people who constantly decry our consumer culture and its marketing gimmicks.

                    4. When those fuckers get goiter or hypothyroidism, we’ll see how they like their organic non-iodinated salt.

  11. The whole op/ed is well worth reading. Let’s hope that the organic food community heeds it.

    Or we can take the ecological approach by letting the E. coli fill it’s natural niche in the alimentary canal of organic food consumers. Just beware. If you brown nose to the environmentalists, you might get sick.

  12. I feel like some McDonald’s tonight. 🙂 And what the fuck is “organic food”? *Bewildered gaze*

  13. Right. The organic food types are as likely to welcome irradiation as Anthony Weiner is to welcome a life of celibacy.

  14. It’s Organic? not organic. It hasn’t been organic since about 1990 when the protectionist-loving dumbasses sold out to the USDA. Yeah, nobody saw the regulatory capture coming from that move.

    1. we love it.

  15. Ronald,
    You quote at length from Dominic Dyer, head of Britain’s Crop Protection Association without disclosing that CPA is an industry lobbying group opposed to virtually ALL organic farming. Mr. Dyer has a vested interest in blaming manure fertilization, as members of the CPA market chemically formulated fertilizers and have seen significant drops in sales as organic farming methods have become increasingly popular.

    This does not mean use of manure is perfectly safe; farmers must use specific protocols in heating and aging the manure to kill microbes, but were we to simply take Dyer’s word for it, we would be unaware that soil contamination by fecal runoff from animal factory farms is a major source of e. coli contamination of crops.

    Nor, were we to simply trust Mr. Dyer to be completely forthcoming, would we be aware that the non-organic grain and corn diets fed cattle at factory farms increases the e. coli levels of their feces over the long term. Cattle fed natural high-fiber diets show significantly lower microbial levels:

    1. So, is he wrong? Also, do you have an objection to irradiating food?

      1. Of course I object to irradiating food. It destroys nutritional value, and does nothing to fix the underlying problem; it simply treats a symptom.

        And yes, he is wrong to blame organic farming when we as yet do not know the origin of this particular e. coli contamination.

        1. So you don’t use a microwave? Really?

          1. He also keeps sunlight away from his plants and animals.

            1. Of course I object to irradiating food. It destroys nutritional value, and does nothing to fix the underlying problem; it simply treats a symptom.

              You might not be wrong about using Dominic Dyer as a source, but what’s your source for your statement about irradiated food?
              And “it simply treats a symptom” is a meaningless statement.

              1. “It simply prevents a possible cause of death” wouldn’t really help his point as much.

          1. Hey, could I irradiate food in the comfort of my own home? Couldn’t I buy some sort of gamma-ray box?

            1. A Gammarator?

              1. Gaydar Range.

              2. A Transmorgifier…

                1. Agammamemnon?

            2. Microwaves are excellent antibacterial treatments as they are absorbed by water preferentially. ‘Nuking your food is pretty much guaranteeing safety from bacterial infection. And, very literally irradiating it as all the energy transfer is through absorption of radiation.

              1. I have an idea. Fly food into orbit (without any shielding), and let the sun irradiate it. Natural! Organic!

              2. Microwaving, for about 3-4 minutes, is one of the easiest ways to sterilize a dish sponge.

                But I too, would like to see Ben’s link or cite establishing that irradiating food saps it of its nutritional value.

                1. Maybe it makes it more nutritional! Or gives you superpowers!

        2. Re: Ben Wolf,

          Of course I object to irradiating food. It destroys nutritional value…

          I’m with you. I eat my meat raw.

        3. Ben Wolf|6.30.11 @ 10:48AM|#
          Of course I object to irradiating food. It destroys nutritional value,

          And you learned this where? And you have looked carefully into the topic??

          Let’s ask actual PhD’s in food science…

          . Are irradiated foods still nutritious?

          Yes. Irradiated foods are wholesome and nutritious. All known methods of food processing and even storing food at room temperature for a few hours after harvesting can lower the content of some nutrients, such as vitamins. At low doses of radiation, nutrient losses are either not measurable or, if they can be measured, are not significant. At the higher doses used to extend shelf-life or control harmful bacteria, nutritional losses are less than or about the same as cooking and freezing.

          While you can point out many food items aren’t eaten cooked, and that cooking pre-irradiated foods compounds the impact… the more important point is, the impact to the actual nutritional value that is being affected is less than that if you just left it sitting in the fridge *one more day*… and when considered in context of a broader diet? You’re not losing anything, and you’re protecting people from a common bacteria that *can kill people*.

          But to the Greenies, saving lives etc. pales in comparison to living in a purist fantasy world.

          BTW, I think there’s a whole Mythbusters episode on the “irradiation kills nutrients” BS.

          Perhaps also Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit”, although I don’t know. They did one on organic I think.

          It is sort of embarrassing how proudly people will throw these claims out there, and how no one actually bothers to check the details…

          e.g. in the NYT – unchallenged:

          Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group….Patty Lovera, the group’s assistant director, said irradiation not only kills bacteria but can also destroy nutrients in food

          I dug up F&WW;’s reference materials: http://documents.foodandwaterw…..inLoss.pdf

          As with most claims along these lines, they tend to use a combination of 2-3 things = 1)tiny studies of selected very-specific foods, with a very small quantities of specific nutrients looked at… and 2) outdated research that was conducted long before we actually started irradiating food widely (some of the stuff cited is dated from the 1950s and 1960s)… and 3) bold, exaggerated claims about the applicability of these studies.

          Example= they claim irradiation destroys 80% of Vitamin A in eggs

          Yeah… egg *shells*. After being stored for 33 days, after receiving 3x the normal dose used…

          If its not some BS like that, its more like, ‘it destroys 90%.!!’ of something which the item in question *has very very little of anyway*.

          These people simultaneously claim “you can’t trust most research!” because so much research is sponsored by Big Evil Corporashuns…

          yet at the same time, no one is more blatantly guilty of totally making research-claims suspect than the Green, All-Natural Organiphiles, who wildly distort the meaning of most studies they cite.

    2. BW: Why do you think I linked to his organization’s website?

  16. The real tragedy of the E. coli incident in Germany is that the outbreak could have been prevented if the organic industry had been willing to irradiate their produce.

    In other unrelated news: Germany has voted itself back into the 19th Century:…..=137520264

    Looks like the German people want to keep atoning for WWII. May they rest in peace.

    1. It’s socialist Europe — frankly, I’m not surprised at all.

      1. Well the even more socialist French are still pretty keen of nuclear energy as are the Swedes for example. Socialist vs. non-socialist is not a good indicator of the nuclear policy.

        1. Isnt this because France has almost nothing in the way of power producing natural resources?

          1. Might be, I am not so sure about this.

    2. Yep. This “Energiewende” is going to take place in my wallet real soon. Actually it already has with all the “alternative energy” subsidies that are already in place.

      I am pretty pissed off that the liberal party (who were pretty much the most pro-nuclear-energy party in Germany) seemingly changed their mind over night (thanks to that Tsunami). But right now being pro-nuclear-energy is political suicide over here.

      1. Re: RandomGermanDude,

        I am pretty pissed off that the liberal party (who were pretty much the most pro-nuclear-energy party in Germany) seemingly changed their mind over night (thanks to that Tsunami).

        What I find most amusing is this attitude of all or nothing. Instead of looking at the safeguards of their nuclear plants to make sure they can withstand natural disasters, they simply decide to shut them down. You know, like getting rid of all motorcars because gasoline might explode…

      2. Yeah? Well, you’ll feel pretty sheepish when a tsunami hits Germany, won’t you?

        1. Nah, I already stockpiled water wings.

    3. Actually they’ve decided to leave behind the more primitive technologies of the 20th Century (fossil fuels, nuclear) and enter the 21st. Germany is well ahead of the U.S.; they develop new methods of energy acquisition, we double down on the old and obsolete.

      1. Which is why I never walk…its too ancient man for me.

        And dont get me started on the wheel. Fuck that shit.

        WTF? You NEVER give up ANY technology.

        1. Buggy whips? Trepanation?

          1. When driving a buggy, I cant think of a better tool.

            Trepanation is a fraud. If it had been legit, yeah, it would still be a useful technology to have around. Actually, isnt there still some legit uses of it? Hmmm….wikipedia says so, sort of.

      2. Re: Ben Wolf,

        Actually they’ve decided to leave behind the more primitive technologies of the 20th Century (fossil fuels, nuclear) and enter the 21st.

        Romanticism is not the same as being in tune with technological advancement. You have a romantic attachment to wind and solar despite the fact that PHYSICS itself makes them inefficient for starters.

        Solar and wind energy systems are the equivalent of the Easter Island Mo’ai.…..raraku.jpg

      3. “Actually they’ve decided to leave behind the more primitive technologies of the 20th Century…”

        In exchange for windmills?

        1. no, giant bloviating douchebags.

          1. On treadmills?

      4. Like coal, (if you can dignify that brown lignite crap they strip-mine with that term) Ben? Which is what the Germans are going to have to use to make up their power production shortfall. 21st century indeed.

        Jesus, you make Chad seem erudite.

  17. I actually buy some organic food. Not because I think it is healthier or some kind of esoteric “closer to nature”.

    I buy it because the conditions under which the animals are kept to produce that food are better (for the animals). I am not some veggie hippie and like to eat to meat but I don’t think we should treat livestock like crap.

    1. This is also why I favor some organic food products. Meat raised in more “natural” ways is also arguably of better quality. It is certainly different.
      Local organic farms also tend to have the best fresh vegetables, in my experience. Though it really has more to do with the care put into the crops than any of the actual organic techniques.

  18. RandomGermanDude|6.30.11 @ 10:43AM|#
    I actually buy some organic food. Not because I think it is healthier or some kind of esoteric “closer to nature”.

    I buy it because the conditions under which the animals are kept to produce that food are better (for the animals). I am not some veggie hippie and like to eat to meat but I don’t think we should treat livestock like crap.

    I have been a critic of the organic food industry since the mid-late 90s, when I started writing research about the sector…

    I also buy organic food fairly frequently, but not consciously, usually. At least not *because* it’s organic. It just might be a product I want to try or right price or whatever.

    That said, regarding “conditions animals are kept in”, etc = Organic meat and organic dairy are one of the only areas where there are numerous real and measurable benefits, IMHO. However, its also has the most significant cost difference compared to ‘regular’ meat/dairy, and whether those real benefits are worth an average 50%-300% premium (e.g. organic chicken breast = $5.99 a lb – non-organic = $2-4 a lb) becomes debateable. I personally think the steroid use, antibiotics, etc that are widely used in meat & dairy production are worth trying to avoid.

    That said, i’m not sure the life of a chicken raised organically is significantly more pleasant and humane than that of a regular old Purdue roaster. People who weep over the inner-lives of chickens before chomping into their Organic Chicken-Ceasar-Wrap are, to put it mildly, fucking retarded. It’s like a Nazi who thinks Auchwitz’ main problem is that they’re not *nice enough* to the Jews before they gas them. A “More-Humane”-Death Camp is not by definition humane at all.

    1. Being worried about the feelings of a chicken you are going to eat when it is 8 months old is pretty retarded.
      Eggs are where free range chickens are really great. The difference between an egg from a chicken that eats insects and such all day and the standard egg from a grain fed bird in a cage is huge.

      1. Eggs are where free range chickens are really great. The difference between an egg from a chicken that eats insects and such all day and the standard egg from a grain fed bird in a cage is huge.

        Oh, dear Lord, this is so true. There is an amazing qualitative difference between an, e.g., Randall’s brown egg and an egg from one of the local producers around here, like Hattermann Farms. The yolks are richer, the whites are tastier. You’ll pay quite a premium though. (~$3.50 a dozen for v. large brown eggs)

  19. ….

    basically, I dont give a shit whether chickens lead fulfilling, pain-free lives. Fuck em. They’re chickens. If they had any sense to begin with they would have fucking evolved.

    Now, cattle on the other hand… I get kinda wishy washy when it comes to red meat. I like it grass-fed, anti-biotic-free, etc, and am willing to pay for it.

    – as with the comment by SwedishLibertarian the other day re: ‘why do libertarians hate Vegans’?… I don’t think there’s any real basis for ‘hating’ organic by itself… what provokes libertoids ire is the scare tactics, misleading data and pathetic rhetoric employed by advocates of “Green”-writ-large. Any criticism of them is clearly a conspiracy by the corporashuns and teh evil capitalists the repress the natural-goodness…

    its that shit that drives people bonkers.

    1. you gotta cross the line man. I think there’s a breed of anti-corporatist libertarian that just is a bit more tolerant of the green stuff.

  20. Isn’t gamma for this purpose a bit of overly sophisticated technology? Why not thermal steriliz’n?

    1. AKA Cooking

      1. Most people don’t like cooked lettuce.

        And, IIANM the sprouts in question here are most frequently used in salads.

        1. Yeah, my (totally unclear) point was that producers using “thermal sterilization” would be ruining their products.

          On reflection, I think Robert might have been suggesting that people who are worried about food poisoning should just cook everything they eat, as opposed to the producers doing it. If so, my reply doesn’t make any sense at all then, not that it made much sense with my initial assumption…

  21. This presents a false premise, that you either use radiation to sterilize produce, or take chances getting sick. When I bring my produce home I fill the sink with water, drop the produce into it, then use my $50 ozone generator to sterilize everything. It keeps me safer, makes the produce last longer, and doesn’t cause genetic changes.

    Sprout producers could easily ozonate their sprouts to protect the public. It’s simple, cheap and effective.

    1. Could you link me some research? Because I’m not sure that you’re going to effectively kill e. coli. by dipping them in ozonated water for 5 minutes. Free radicals just aren’t going to be absorbed from the water into their system that fast. No offense, but it seems unlikely from a physical mechanism.

      1. I must confess to being somewhat confused by much of what is coming across in the media.

        It was always muy understanding that e. coli on the surface of fruits and veg could be completely removed by washing the produce thoroughly. The simple scouring action of running water and or the diluting effect of dunking was sufficient to remove any bacteria from the surface. No sterilization needed.

        Now I am getting the impression that this e coli is actually getting into the internal cell structure of the plants, though I confess that I have no knowledge of any mechanism by which this could occur.

        In the interview I heard on the BBC this morning, Dominic Dyer seemed to be saying that it was the seeds that needed to be irridiated, suggesting that it was the seeds that were contaminated. Did I hear wrong or is there some way for seeds to somehow introduce bacteria to a plant?

        If it is a question of just irradiating the seeds, I fail to see how that could affect the nutritional quality of the food. On the other hand I strongly suspect that irradiation has no real affect on that anyway. It certainly could make the world of difference to products like hamburger, just as it already has had on spices, which AFAIK is the only currently authorized use of irradiation.

      2. I agree with Brett and I’d like to see some cites too. I’ve heard of ozone being used to sterilize winery equipment, but I thought it was more involved than a couple of minutes of swishing around some altered water.

        I usually just wash all produce in hot, lightly soapy water and rinse. Like Isaac, I didn’t know that E. coli was getting into the actual cellular structure of produce; I thought it was merely on the surface, usually from fecal contamination.

    2. UNCLEAN!!!!

    3. I’ve got you beat there, Tim. Only the finest colloidal silver sterilizes my veggies.

    4. I have a microscope and really small tweezers, and I remove the e. coli individually.

    5. Why don’t you just use about 3 cents worth of bleach instead of your ozone generator?

  22. It’s a great idea but I doubt the organic industry would go for it. It’s been a while, but don’t forget that people have actually protested (and I mean signs and chanting) against food irradiation companies in this country.

  23. What a bummer it would be to slip off into death knowing you died because you ate some goddamn poisoned bean sprouts when you could have had a big fat steak and still be alive.

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