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Tuesday, 10 October 2006
A Vegan Lifestyle Can Be Deadly
First they came for the Spinach,
and I did not say anything because?
I don't like Spinach

Officials zero in on possible source of tainted spinach

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Test results linking two bags of Dole brand baby spinach to a deadly E. coli strain have helped health officials focus on a specific batch from a San Juan Bautista processing plant that may be the source of a nationwide outbreak.

The investigation remains focused on Natural Selection Foods LLC, which officials believe packaged the tainted spinach for Dole and dozens of other brands. They're looking specifically at nine farms in three California counties that supplied leafy greens to the company.

Both tainted bags -- one found in Utah over the weekend and the other in New Mexico earlier last week -- were processed during the same shift on Aug. 15 at Natural Selection's plant, said Dr. Kevin Reilly, deputy director of prevention services for the California Department of Health Services.(Watch federal officials try to pinpoint the E. coli source -- 2:02) "We are looking very aggressively at what was produced on that date," Reilly said Monday. "Much of the feedback we got from patients right now was related to Dole packaging."

Pennsylvania health officials said Tuesday that a bag of Dole baby spinach purchased there was also tied to the deadly E. coli strain. A lab identified the strain in a sample of spinach purchased on or around Sept. 8 in western Pennsylvania.

Then it was Lettuce.

Feds eye water in lettuce E. coli case
Newsday Staff Writer

October 10, 2006

E. coli-tainted irrigation water apparently contaminated California lettuce, recalled over the weekend by its producer, but federal regulators say at this juncture there's no linking the microbe to the dangerous strain that sickened 199 people and killed three who consumed contaminated spinach.

Nunes Co. voluntarily recalled more than 8,500 cartons of what it calls its "green leaf lettuce" grown in the Salinas Valley on a single farm. The region has been at the center of an intense probe in recent weeks following an outbreak of infections caused by E. coli O157:H7, linked to spinach also grown in that area.

It's not like this is anything new either.

Dole Lettuce E. coli Outbreak
In September and October, 2005, at least 23 Minnesotans became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after consuming Dole brand triple-washed, pre-packaged lettuce. Consumers in Wisconsin and Oregon who suffered E. coli infections in the same time period were also determined to be part of the Dole lettuce E. coli outbreak through genetic testing and an epidemiological investigation into their illnesses.

So what is the solution?

How can one prevent E. coli O157: H7 infection?

1. Cook all ground beef thoroughly.

Preventing E. coli at Petting ZoosEating undercooked ground beef is the most important risk factor for acquiring E. coli O157:H7.[1] Because ground beef can turn brown before disease causing bacteria are killed, use a digital instant read meat thermometer to ensure thorough cooking. Ground beef should be cooked until a thermometer inserted into several parts of the patty, including the thickest part, reads at least 160º F. Persons who cook ground beef without using a thermometer can decrease their risk of illness by not eating ground beef patties that are still pink in the middle. If you are served an undercooked hamburger or other ground beef product in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking.[2]

Avoid spreading harmful bacteria in your kitchen. Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods. Wash hands, counters, and utensils with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat. Never place cooked hamburgers or ground beef on the unwashed plate that held raw patties.

Wash meat thermometers in between tests of patties that require further cooking.

2. Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, or cider.

Commercial juice with an extended shelf life that is sold at room temperature (e.g. juice in cardboard boxes, vacuum-sealed juice in glass containers) has been pasteurized, although this is generally not indicated on the label. Most juice concentrates are also heated sufficiently to kill pathogens.

To be succinct the solution is to,

Cook your Food!

How long ago did the Human Race discover that little trick?

Sequence of stages in control: fire for warmth vs. fire for cooking
taintOne thing we can say about the widespread use of fire probable by 125,000 years ago, however, is that it would almost certainly have included the use of fire for cooking.* Why can this be assumed? It has to do with the sequence for the progressive stages of control over fire that would have had to have taken place prior to fire usage becoming commonplace. And the most interesting of these is that fire for cooking would almost inevitably have been one of the first uses it was put to by humans, rather than some later-stage use.*

The first fires on earth occurred approximately 350 million years ago--the geological evidence for fire in remains of forest vegetation being as old as the forests themselves.[110] It is usual to focus only on fire's immediately destructive effects to plants and wildlife, but there are also benefits. In response to occasional periodic wildfires, for example, certain plants and trees have evolved known as "pyrophytes," for whose existence periodic wildfires are essential. Fire revitalizes them by destroying their parasites and competitors, and such plants include grasses eaten by herbivores as well as trees that provide shelter and food for animals.[111]

Opportunistic exploitation of animal kills by predators after wildfires. Fires also provide other unintended benefits to animals as well. Even at the time a wildfire is still burning, birds of prey (such as falcons and kites)--the first types of predators to appear at fires--are attracted to the flames to hunt fleeing animals and insects. Later, land-animal predators appear when the ashes are smoldering and dying out to pick out the burnt victims for consumption. Others, such as deer and bovine animals appear after that to lick the ashes for their salt content. Notable as well is that most mammals appear to enjoy the heat radiated at night at sites of recently burned-out fires.[112]

It would have been inconceivable, therefore, that human beings, being similarly observant and opportunistic creatures, would not also have partaken of the dietary windfall provided by wildfires they came across. And thus, even before humans had learned to control fire purposefully--and without here getting into the later stages of control over fire--their early passive exposures to it would have already introduced them, like the other animals, to the role fire could play in obtaining edible food and providing warmth

A case can even be made that we have evolved to require cooked food.

What do common genetic rates of change suggest about potential adaptation to cooking?
We have gone a little far afield here getting some kind of grasp on rates of genetic change, but I think it's been necessary for us to have a good sense of the time ranges involved. So to bring this back around to the question of adaptation to cooking, it should probably be clear by this point that given the time span involved (likely 125,000 years since fire and cooking became widespread), the chances are very high that we are in fact adapted to the cooking of whatever foods were consistently cooked.* I would include in these some of the vegetable foods, particularly the coarser ones such as starchy root vegetables such as yams, which are long thought to have been cooked,[131] and perhaps others, as well as meat, from what we know about the fossil record.

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Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006 5:15 PM CDT

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