In recent days it has been hard to pick up a newspaper or read online headlines without another troubling story about deadly food poisoning in Europe. Each day the experts identify another possible culprit. One day its killer cucumbers. The next day fingers were pointed at tomatoes. For a few days, they were sure it was bean sprouts. Now conventional wisdom is pointing at salads in general and some officials in Europe are recommending to stay away from tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. That’s not good news. Fresh fruits and vegetables are just what studies like the NHANES have shown to be linked to younger skin and fewer wrinkles.
But the current outbreak is troubling for two key reasons–1) Its caused by a genetic recombination of two different types of E-coli bacteria and 2) that combo became an especially virulent strain of bacteria. So far more than 2000 have become sick, half had to be hospitalized and over 600 have suffered kidney failure.
On one hand I don’t want to give up fresh fruit and vegetalbes that are packed with anti-aging antioxidants and vitamins. But then there is that kidney failure thing. There are also no guidelines on what we can safely eat. One suggestion has been to wash all produce with disinfecting rinse and eat only foods that can be peeled.
OK, I know how to peel stuff, but what is a disinfecting rinse? Turns out there are three main types:
1) A very natural approch is to use a produce wash that gets it power from citrus oils. Extracted from grapefruit and lemon rinds, these oils clean off wax, dirt and chemicals. I boughta bottle from my health food store called Biokleer for about $5. Following directions I put one tablespoon of Biokleer in a gallon of water. It became sudsy as I swished around my lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and red pepper. I then rinsed of the suds in another bowl of cool water. They all looked sparkling clean and the original water was grey and cloudy with dirt. Some studies suggest that grapefruit oils kill bacteria, but the label of this product made no such claim.
2. Scientists from the University of Nebraska recommend making a rinse of 1 teaspoon of clorox mixed with a gallon of water and to soak fruits and vegetables in it for 20 minutes. These are then washed off with water to remove the clorox. It sounds simple enough, but other experts are concerned about the impact of clorox on human health as well as on the environment.
3. In Mexico where food bourne illnesses are all too common, doctors are recommending a rinse that contains iodized silver. Two brands that are widely available there in supermarkets are Microdyn and Bacdyn. After soaking in a diluted solution, fruits and vegetables should be placed on a clean towel or colander to drain. There is no need to rinse off silver based cleansers, an added bonus when the water itsef might not be so safe.
I am curious if you have used any of these techniques for cleaning fresh fruits and vegetables. Did you find they changed the taste of the food? And did they affect you in any way? I certainly don’t want to give up all the health benefits of salads. Last summer I stopped eating eggs because of the samonella outbreak and by the winter my nails had become paper thin and had shredded below the finger tip. Since eggs are our major source of biotin, I began taking Biotin supplements and with a few weeks, my nails were healthy again. I don’t want to make the same mistake again and exchange one problem for another.