The surf is up, filled with the salty waters of antibiotic resistance. A study published in the Environment International journal found that surfers were three times as likely to be carrying antibiotic resistant E. coli in their stool than non-surfers. Researchers believe this is because surfers are more likely to swallow water than the non-surfing population. As someone who has tried surfing exactly once, I can attest that I unintentionally swallowed much more Venice Beach ocean water than I wanted to.
When antibiotics are fed to livestock and farmers use their manure to fertilize crops, the antibiotics in their system can give rise to [antibiotic resistance]. When those crops are watered, runoff from the fields sometimes make it into bodies of water. When people swim in that water or swallow it, they are prone to infection.
Surfers, who may be generally healthy, are unlikely to get severely sick from ingesting the bacteria. However, “they could spread the bacteria to anyone they interact with, including the elderly and people with compromised immune systems,” resulting in much more severe consequences.
Hold the salad, please. Or at least hold the romaine lettuce – a deadly outbreak of E. coli linked to this green leaf has been reported in the U.S. and Canada. At least 60 people have been infected and one person has died as a result of this outbreak.
I happen to be on a romaine lettuce kick myself, but suppose I’ll switch to another variety that hasn’t yet been contaminated. According to Food Safety News:
The risk is ongoing in both countries, officials report. Canadian officials are suggesting consumers in some provinces avoid all romaine lettuce. Government officials haven’t revealed any information about implicated suppliers, distributors or retailers in the romaine supply chain.
So that’s reassuring. It’s worth noting that while the Canadian government is advising against eating romaine lettuce, the U.S. CDC is still conducting their own research:
“Because we have not identified a source of the infections, CDC is unable to recommend whether U.S. residents should avoid a particular food. This investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available.”
Symptoms of E. coli may include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting and usually appear 1-10 days after exposure. People with weakened immune symptoms, young children, older adults, and pregnant women are most at risk for serious complications.
Well it’s been exactly 2 years since my last update, and very little has changed. I could have written the post below this one today!
Salmonella in pre-packaged food continues to be a concern
. I’m pretty sure I could google this every week (at least) and a new result would pop up. VERY reassuring.
Two years ago, I mentioned frozen berries had been found to be contaminated with Hepatitis A. A good explanation of how that could happen is here
. Basically, people who don’t wash their hands or a contaminated water supply can cause these kinds of disasters to occur. On a personal note, I eat frozen berries ALL THE TIME. I like living on the edge though. Isn’t it exciting to consider for a second the food you are about to eat could have a virus or bacteria lurking and waiting to leech on to your insides?
Happy summer eating everyone!