Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cantalope, Listeria and What They Don't Tell You!

Another food-borne illness is in the news.  Consumption of cantaloupes from Colorado have made thousands ill and killed others.  They report this alright but give no information on what to do if you have one of these melons in your fridge.  They tell you nothing about listeria itself (except to scare you) nor is there any talk about where it comes from, how to prevent yourself from getting it, or just how the hell it might have contaminated the Colorado fields of cantaloupes.

If you have a cantaloupe at home, the listeria is found on the outside of the "skin".  You get it when you cut the melon - it spreads on the knife to the inside.  Washing the outside of the melon with alcohol will kill the listeria.  You can find that information on the web but sadly not on the news where they would do well to be a bit more responsible with their reporting and include some help for consumers, that goes beyond their scare tactics, don't you think?

If you recall, earlier this year it was spinach, then lettuce.  It's always something.  And yet what do "they" tell us? Very little.  They blame it on the "insufficient" washing in the pre-shipping packaging.  It's either e.coli, salmonella or listeria.  We never had these outbreaks prior to the 1970's.  Anyone wonder why?

I'm not alone in the theory that our contaminants in the produce fields are the direct result of run off from CAFO's (Concentrated Aminal Feeding Operations) nearby.  The CAFO's are notorious for polluting rivers and streams.  If you haven't seen videos on these CAFO operations, you should.  It may be enough right there to give up meat entirely or at least go organic.

I do remember reading AFTER the spinach fiasco that further investigations actually did blame the contamination on a nearby industrial-sized animal farm.  Heavy rains in the area months before helped to spread the poo (so to speak) downhill into the spinach fields.  Hence, my theory that this cantaloupe thing will eventually (if they LOOK) be tied in to the same thing.

One reason they don't make a bigger deal out of this pollution is that they don't want you to be too aware of CAFO's in the first place.  Meat comes from the grocery - never mind how it got there!  Just eat it!  The conditions in CAFO's are deplorable, disease is rampant, bacteria thrive there despite all the antibiotics given to the poor sick animals because they can become resistant to it, or morph into a new strain - the possibilities for contamination are endless.

  Here's a dandy fact I found:

"The more than 295,000 beef cattle on industrial feedlots in Weld County, Colorado produce as much untreated manure as the sewage from the New York City and Chicago metro areas combined."

This is just the cattle.  There are hog farms (they aren't really farms) and chickens "farms" as well.  That's a LOT of poop.  These animals also receive humongous doses of anti-biotics and hormones which can cause anti-biotic resistant strains of viruses we can end up with and doctors cannot always treat!

 Here's what Ronnie Cummings of the Organic Consumers Assn. has to say:
"Greenwashing CAFO products as "natural" or "local" is a major source of profits for Wal-Mart, Cargill, Conagra, Perdue, Land O' Lakes, Kraft, McDonalds, KFC, Monsanto and chemical/GMO farmers and ranchers.
… These animal factories, where GMO feed and drugs are force-fed to most of the nation's livestock and poultry, are not only poisoning consumers, but are also generating massive amounts of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases, especially methane, which is 72 times more destructive per ton than CO2. Methane (CH4) pollution is responsible for approximately 14% of human-induced global warming.
… Millions of consumers are still in the dark about how "conventional" foods - especially the cheaper brands of animal products, processed, fast, and fake foods - are produced."

Here's what I found on listeria:

Listeria can be found in soil, which can lead to vegetable contamination. Animals can also be carriers. Listeria has been found in uncooked meats, uncooked vegetables, fruit such as cantaloupes,[4] unpasteurized milk, foods made from unpasteurized milk, and processed foods. Pasteurization and sufficient cooking kill Listeria; however, contamination may occur after cooking and before packaging. For example, meat-processing plants producing ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs and deli meats, must follow extensive sanitation policies and procedures to prevent Listeria contamination.[5] Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and food.[6] Listeria are responsible for listeriosis, a rare but potentially lethal food-borne infection. The case fatality rate for those with a severe form of infection may approach 25%.[7] (Salmonella, in comparison, has a mortality rate estimated at less than 1%[8]). Although Listeria monocytogenes has low infectivity, it is hardy and can grow in temperatures from 4 °C (39.2 °F) (the temperature of a refrigerator), to 37 °C (98.6 °F), (the body's internal temperature).[6] Listeriosis is a serious illness, and the disease may manifest as meningitis, or affect newborns due to its ability to penetrate the endothelial layer of the placenta.[7]

I think we aren't supposed to know about these CAFO's and their polluting everything.  We are just expected to go to the grocery store, stock up on meat - especially when it's on sale - and eat this as if there is no tomorrow..............only there IS a tomorrow.

Have you cut back on your meat consumption?  Here's a brief intro film on CAFO's - I know this seems off topic but I feel everything is connected - sadly.  Not to mention, if you don't know where your meat is coming from, you need to know!


  1. I work so hard at getting healthy food into my family and I just have stopped buying most meat except from my organic farm. Now I have lost my source for pork - which my husband does well with.

    I eat only organic chicken and turkey from my CSA

    I have always developed per-cancerous garbage cysts when I am eating things that are not organic and now must filter my water because our stunning well waters are polluted from animal waste and the city puts chlorine in which shuts down my kidneys.

    But then I am just a sicko that is always "worked up" about something.

    Keep getting the word out - for our children's sakes Thank you

  2. Hi Patricia! Kudos to you, kiddo! It's a lot of work and research that has to go in to just taking care of ourselves these days! My health suffers too if I "go astray" - it's amazing how much our bodies know about this stuff! Sending you hugs of encouragement!

  3. Susan,

    While I agree animals are treated in ways that can cause resistant bacteria, I think the listeria and other vegetables scare are part of raising things in the ground through mass production.

    Cattle, pigs and vegetables have raised near each other for years. Again, I agree that conditions, such as the picture you showed of the cattle increase the odds of common soil bacteria becoming more dangerous.

    I also think people tend to get a bit careless about washing vegies and even fruit. There's an assumption in this country that if you buy it at the supermarket, it's got to be clean. This often isn't the case. It's a good idea to wash even bagged lettuce.

    Thanks again for keeping us informed. We become complacent so easily and need voices, like yours, to remind us.

  4. Hi Sara, I grew up on an old-fashioned farm, nary a listeria or e.coli outbreak, so you're right it has to do with the industrialization of farming - the sheer magnitude of it. You're also right about people not washing themselves properly (in bathrooms) let alone their store bought produce. Yeah, it LOOKS clean so why bother? Bagged lettuce in particular is a great example - the bag says triple washed! It does not matter - wash it again. My mother-in-law once found an ugly wormy thing in her bag, and a friend said she had a tiny frog in hers. Lovely. Keep washing!

  5. Hi, clicked over here from the Aspen blog. (Cross-marketing works!) Great article. Everyone should read it.

  6. That's it. I'm not eating anymore.

    So glad to see Winston over here!!

  7. Hi Susan,

    I love how you always share such informative posts.

    What I find sad is how it's always "after the fact", after people have gotten sick or died we're told of these problems. Same with tainted medications. You'd think the government would enforce regulations so this doesn't happen, but instead nothing is said until it's too late (for some).

    On the same note, I'm also noticing food being sold which is produced in foreign countries. Granted some of these countries have better regulations than us, but others are quite questionable.

  8. Hi Smith! Thanks for the visit! Hope you'll drop in again!

  9. Hi Jillian! LOL - yes sometimes it gets like that! There is still a banquet table of safe foods, trust me. I'm doing a whole series coming up of good things to try to incorporate in your diet, like quinoa. Don't give up on food!

  10. Hi Barb! Yes, the after the fact issue, hmmmm. I could do a whole ranting blog on that!

    As far as food coming in from other countries, your assumption that they have better regulations than ours, well, wish that were 100% true of all the produce. We ship chemicals that are banned here to other countries to use, even DDT according to what I've researched. Criminal I know, but these chemical companies won't give up if they can make a buck! So we get produce here that could have been sprayed with stuff that is banned here, but not banned there. We just never know for sure, sadly.

    Washing - lots of washing - our food is key!

  11. Susan (Suzen--smile) this was a very informative article. I had never thought about the listeria being on the outside of the skin. And I agree with you about the possibility of this being caused by the animal farms. Sounds plausible. We eat very limited amounts of meat, although we do eat Barry's fresh-caught fish from the Lake. Nice healthy blog you have here.

  12. Hi Kathy! Thanks so much! Glad you stopped by. Oh I do envy you the wild, fresh caught fish! That's the only way to eat them! The fish farms are a just another source of food gone wrong - they give the tons of antibiotics since they are in confined areas where disease can spread. Just makes me sick to think about it. Fish in the wild - the best ever!

  13. I'm sure you have seen it but just in case...the dvd Food, Inc. is a real eye opener.

  14. Hi Sheryl! Oh yes, that Food, Inc. is great! We are meant to have our eyes opened at this time about a LOT of things we just haven't paid attention to and I try my best to write about it on this blog. Hope you'll come back for more! Thank you so much for leaving a comment!

  15. It seems like we cant trust anything we eat anymore. They say some of the healthiest things we can eat now a days has placenta extract in it.