Friday, February 27, 2009

"We'll Have To Sacrifice Georgia"

US News and World Report posted an article yesterday reviewing the options for destroying pathogens in our food:

Can Irradiating Food Zap Salmonella Outbreaks?

Here are the options:
  • Irradiation
  • X-rays
  • Pressure-treatment
  • Ozone treatment
  • Chlorine treatment
  • Bacteriophages (viruses that kill bacteria)
Which do you prefer? Pressed to answer, I'd pick ozone treatment. But I don't know much about any of these, really.

Conversation between me and BL:

Me: "We're going to have to do something about pathogens in food."
BL: "Why not just clean these buildings? Disinfect them?"
Me: "You'll never get this quantity of mass-produced, pressure-to-keep-prices-low food totally clean."
BL: "Look, clear out the Peanut Corp. plant and set off a nuclear bomb."
Me: "That's crazy."
BL: "We'll have to sacrifice Georgia."
Photo is an actual image of the mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.


virginia said...

sacrifice georgia ??????

maybe BL isn't a morning person.

ps. wonderful capture of morning light.

Jennywenny said...

Wouldnt it be great if we didnt need any of those.

I use ozone very occasionally in the lab and I'm not sure its any nicer than the other stuff. Presumably used in bulk it would contribute to smog and greenhouse gases when it reacts with things? Not to mention being dangerous for people working with it. But then I cant imagine any of the other options are any more environmentally/worker friendly!

esmaa said...

I think we need to look seriously at decentralizing our food system.

caulfieldkid said...

Selfishly, since I am in good health, I would rather just not do any of the options. I would rather take my chances with the bacteria.

If I think of other people than myself, I really don't know what should be done. Sometimes I wonder if the cure is worse than the problem.

Dr. Mel said...

I seem to remember, some years ago, when ozone-based machines to "freshen" your house air were in vogue, reading an article suggesting that such devices could cause cancer. But I'm very hazy on the details. Sorry!

virginia said...

plus several related links...

Bix said...

Great link virginia.

I'm eating a dried fig at this moment, mission. I wonder if it was gassed. I guess they don't have to label this stuff.

I don't like any of these options, but I see them happening.

Dr. Mel said...

It is a good link, Virginia. Is that kind of gassing allowed w/ organic produce, I wonder...? Don't know the answer.

At the bottom of the abstract that Virginia linked to was an ad for the kind of ozone-generating machines I remember:

Surely that can't be good for you?

Bix said...

So, nobody has a preference?

Leonard said...

LOL! Come on Georgia, take one for the team!
I only know about irradiation, and limited knowledge on that. So that's my pick, go with what you know...I guess. ;) peace

Bix said...

"Come on Georgia, take one for the team!"
I'm laughing all over again.

Dr. Mel said...

OK, I'll have an opinion. I'll take what Carol has behind that door. No wait, do I want the lady or the tiger? No, wait, I think I'll take irradiation. Just read an article in the mag Eating Well about an academic study that has not found problems w/ irradiation, but does note that it kills 99.9 percent of pathogens on produce, even the contaminants that actually get inside the food, where you can't wash them off. If I find a link to the article, will send it. And given that I just read in NYT that the contaminated peanut plants were CERTIFIED ORGANIC (aargh)..... Well, I say irradiation, though it's pathetic that our ag is so awful that we need any purification process.

Bix said...

I hear you, Melinda.

This would make a good poll. My knee-jerk reaction is what shaun said ... why do we have to do anything? But it looks like we have to have to do something, and the options leave a lot to be desired.

This is the essence of the raw milk debate, IMO. If you could provide raw milk to the masses and guarantee that it contained no pathogens, I don't think there would be a debate.