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Salad-borne Hepatitis

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Salad-borne Hepatitis

N Tocus | Nov 24, 2003 08:00 AM

Readers may be interested to take a look today (11-24-03) at slate.com's article "Dirty Rotten Scallions" by Robert Bazell. With reference to the recent Pennsylvania hepatitis outbreak that Bazell says sickened 540 people and killed 3, the article points out some alarming facts. Public health authorities traced the hepatitis to scallions served at Chi-Chi's and says that over half the scallions sold in the United States come from Mexico. Further, "...at certain times of the year over 70% of the fresh produce [sold] in the United States comes from Mexico...". Sanitation standards in Third-world countries increase the possibility of bacterial contamination of food that is processed there. For generations people traveling or living in less-developed countries have taken precautions around eating salads and fresh fruit; now it seems this problem has come home to us as a side effect of the global economy. And before someone starts a thread saying how healthful the food in Mexico really is, let me mention that I personally have two friends who contracted hepatitis and another who came home with amoebic dysentery after living/traveling in Mexico: this is a real problem, not a hysterical rumor. I am not eager to soak my lettuce in disinfectant, as people living in India have done. We can peel the mangos and scrub the melons, but salad ingredients pose other problems. Any suggestions?

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