Irrigation water may help spread foodbourne illnesses

23 Jul

The Culinary Chick tips her toque to Amanda Beals of for forwarding an article written by Jessica Wakeman. This article summarizes the benefits of using soap and water to keep bacteria at bay when preparing food. Unfortunately, the article also states the following: Just because you take the precaution of washing your hands before and after cooking, it still doesn’t mean that you are safe.

From Jalapeno Safety, A Cheap and Easy Food Safety Tip:

Does this mean the jalapenos that got people sick were unwashed? Investigators don’t know yet, says Powell, adding that perhaps the salmonella outbreak happened because the jalapenos were washed in bacteria-tainted water. Therefore, making sure your water source is not tainted is important, too. (You’ll have to leave it to the growers to ensure your produce is not tainted on the farm.)

But as the salmonella outbreak is teaching us, vigilance on the hygiene front alone isn’t enough to keep us from getting sick. Bacteria can get inside leafy greens (which it absorbs while growing), so contamination must be prevented on the farm, Powell says. “Food safety begins on the farm and goes all the way through the system. Basically, you follow the poop.”


So, as in the case of the 2006 E. Coli outbreak that affected spinach and baby lettuces, irrigation water may transmit harmful microbes when the plants absorb the water. So kids, we must all be diligent when shopping our small markets. Face it, the stores where you purchase your produce won’t know which source of water was used to water the vegetables, but your local farmer at the farmer’s market will.

This is an even better reason to buy local when available.


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