Science

Food washing process may be causing outbreaks of poisoning

Outbreaks of food poisoning could be caused by an industry standard cleaning procedure used for fresh produce like salads, according to scientists in the UK. Stuart McDill reports.

SOUTHAMPTON & LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / KING CITY, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (Reuters) – Are we washing raw food well enough?

The W.H.O. says food poisoning caused by bacteria kills more than 400,000 people a year

Researchers say the way the industry washes raw food using chlorine – is supposed to kill or reduce the number of bacteria but it is actually making them undetectable.

PROFESSOR BILL KEEVIL, HEAD OF THE MICROBIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON SAYING:

“It is good standard practice to chlorinate, disinfect foods to reduce those numbers but our work is showing in fact that this is masking the problem and you may not be killing the pathogens at all.”

The work showed some bacteria survive the stress of coming into contact with chlorine by shutting down – a state that makes them invisible to standard lab tests

The team showed kill nematode worms could be killed by bacteria after they were washed in chlorinated water

PROFESSOR BILL KEEVIL, HEAD OF THE MICROBIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON,

“This is absolute proof they are still alive, they are still capable of causing infection. So the implications for this are broad. So for a start we have these many outbreaks of disease that can’t be traced. Are they due to stressed, viable but not culturable bacteria that are missed using routine approaches?”

Salads, cucumber and tomatoes are just some of the foods affected – normally washed with chlorine and eaten raw

PROFESSOR BILL KEEVIL, HEAD OF THE MICROBIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON,

“We think the foodchain does need to sit up and take notice because they’ve been relying on this common disinfection procedure for oh, a hundred years, particularly for drinking water supplies. It’s stood us in good stead. It’s certainly reduced outbreaks of disease particularly from drinking water but with the many unidentified outbreaks it’s making us think again. Is this because pathogens are stressed and they’re being missed?”

Keevil said we all need to wash raw food thoroughly before eating it.


Associated Links

  • Food safety
  • Foodborne illness
  • Food
  • Chemistry
  • Water treatment
  • Disinfectant
  • Raw foodism
  • Water chlorination
  • Chlorine

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.