Although the most serious causes of food poisoning like Salmonella come mostly from animal products (for example, most foodborne-related deaths have been attributed to poultry), millions of Americans are sickened by produce every year, thanks to noroviruses. Noroviruses can spread person-to-person via the fecal-oral route or by the ingestion of aerosolized vomit, which together may explain most norovirus food outbreaks. But a substantial proportion remained unexplained. How else can fecal viruses get on our fruits and veggies?
The pesticide industry may be spraying them on.
The water thatís used to spray pesticides on crops may be dredged up from ponds contaminated with fecal pathogens. When you hear of people getting infected with a stomach bug like E. coli from something like spinach, itís important to realize that the pathogen didnít originate from the spinach. Intestinal bugs come from intestines. Greens donít have guts; plants donít poop.
“The application of pesticides may therefore not only be a chemical hazard, but also a microbiological hazard for public health.” What is the indsutry’s solution? To add more chemicals! ďThe inclusion of antiviral substances in reconstituted pesticides,Ē researchers assert, ďmay be appropriate to reduce the virological health risk posed by the application of pesticides.Ē Or we could just choose organic.
The Salmonella in alfalfa sprout seeds (don’t eat raw alfalfa sprouts) likely came from manure run-off or contaminated irrigation water. But this pesticide angle adds a whole new route for fecal pathogens to pollute produce. Broccoli Sprouts are safer, and organic sprouts may therefore be safer still.
Either way, though, we should always wash all fruits and veggies under running water, as one solution to pollution is dilution.
Organic foods may also be healthier†and donít carry the potential chemical hazards associated with pesticides.
Michael Greger, M.D.
PS: If you havenít yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations†Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More Than an Apple a Day, and From Table to Able.