Raw fruits and vegetables are good for you but may also send you to the doctor, according to research published today by Cambridge University Press in the journal Epidemiology and Infection.
A review article in the journal, written by several experts in their field, has highlighted the fact that fresh fruits and vegetables are increasingly recognised as a source of food poisoning outbreaks in many parts of the world.
In Europe, recent outbreaks have revealed new and unexplained links between some bacterias and viruses that cause food poisoning and imported baby corn, lettuces, and even raspberries. In the USA, recent outbreaks of E Coli infections have been linked to bagged baby spinach, and Salmonella to peppers, imported cantaloupe melons and tomatoes as well.
Professor Norman Noah, Editor-in-Chief of the journal says: "This research confirms that raw fruit and vegetables can cause food poisoning. To obtain raw fruit and vegetables out of season, as many countries now do, they are transported many thousands of miles from growing areas, and outbreaks can affect many widely dispersed countries simultaneously. Some outbreaks undoubtedly go unrecognized, and the scale of the problem is as yet unknown.
"Identifying the source of contamination in any outbreak requires a careful assessment of potential exposures. Further work needs to be done to fully understand fully where the organisms that causes the poisoning comes from, and at which point in the journey from field to fork."
In the journal, the links between raw produce and food poisoning have been compared with other foods that are now well-recognized sources of infection with particular bacteria, such as eggs with salmonella and beef mince with E Coli.
- M. F. Lynch, R. V. Tauxe and C. W. Hedberg. The growing burden of foodborne outbreaks due to contaminated fresh produce: risks and opportunities. Epidemiology and Infection, 2009; 137 (3): 307-315 DOI: 10.1017/S0950268808001969
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