On Friday, April 13th, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the cause of a multi-state E.coli O157-H7 related to chopped Romaine lettuce, affecting 35 people in 11 states, hospitalizing 22 and causing kidney failure in 3 victims. This outbreak was the result of cases of eating the lettuce from March 22nd – March 31st, 2018, yet the cause of the outbreak was not confirmed until over 3 weeks after the first illness was reported. No recall was issued on the lettuce. (https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2018/o157h7-04-18/index.html)
This is the second E.coli O157-H7 outbreak linked to leafy greens – although the specific type of greens was not confirmed – which ended January 25th, 2018, leaving 25 people ill in 15 states, 9 hospitalizations and 1 associated death. (https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2017/o157h7-12-17/index.html)
By the time the news about the outbreak had come out, the damage to human lives had already been done. Foodborne illness-related outbreaks have become a common headline, and we cannot accept this as the status quo. We must change our approach to how we think about how we process our produce, as the most recent case was with cut lettuce, which is supposed to be pre-washed.
Like so many foodborne illness outbreaks, contamination can be avoided with proper food handling and cleaning.
According to Dr. Ibrahim:
- Most of the ‘pre-washed’ produce uses chlorine as a processing aid, which is only effective to a log 1-2 bacteria reduction – only about 90%, which he believes is not sufficient. Based on data from FDA.gov and journals such as the Journal of Science and Sustainable Development, it is clear that water and even chlorinated water show much lower than a 1% reduction of bacteria. This has been corroborated by our own third party studies with Earthbound Farms, the Institute for Food Safety, and Health and Micro Quality labs.
- Rinsing leafy greens with water alone, which is the recommendation for consumers from the FDA and CDC, is not enough to remove pathogenic biofilms from harmful E.coli, salmonella and listeria, the main pathogens that cause foodborne illness
- There is no ‘kill’ step in cooking lettuce; therefore it is critical that the consumer take the sufficient precautions to thoroughly clean their produce – whether pre-cut or whole – with a product that is effective in removing pathogenic biofilms that adhere to the produce’s surface
Dr. Shawki Ibrahim, Ph.D. Environmental Health Sciences and Mareya Ibrahim are both greatly concerned by the information being given by thought leaders in the produce and food safety world regarding the improper cleaning and handling of produce. Dr. Ibrahim is an expert in the field of environmental toxins and Ms. Ibrahim is a trusted advisor for major local chain grocery stores, military and school districts on removing harmful contaminants and processing produce effectively to achieve.
We don’t wash our hands with water alone. We don’t wash our clothes with water alone. Why would the tap water that we don’t even drink most of the time be a sufficient cleanser on its own? There is clearly a concern regarding produce safety but as a company, we have the responsibility of helping to educate consumers and food handlers and the information available to the general public is extremely conflicted.
It’s time for consumers to take matters in their own hands and we have the solution for them to do so in a cost effective and easy way with a lab proven, patented product like Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash, with products designed for the home chef, restaurants, juice bars and produce processors. Whether a consumer is eating at home or eating out, it is imperative that they understand the importance of how their produce is washed in order to mitigate their risk of the potentially fatal complications created by food borne illness.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Dirty Dozen 2018 Report
In recent years, consumers have become increasingly aware of the potential risk of pesticide residue on fresh produce, opting to purchase organic fruit and vegetables. However in a 2017 study released from Grow Green Industries, Inc. up to 98% of fungicides such as Carbendazim and neoninicotinoid pesticides such as Imidacloprid, can be removed from whole porous fruit such as strawberries through effective cleaning with Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash (www.EatCleaner.com).
For the third year in a row, Strawberries have topped the list of dirty fruits and vegetables by EWG’s Dirty Dozen. However, organic strawberries represent less than 10% of the market nationwide, and even organic strawberries can be exposed to methyl bromide and other toxic chemicals not to mention salmonella and other bacteria and contaminants. This third-party test validates that with proper cleaning of both organic and conventionally-grown strawberries, consumers can feel 100% better about washing pesticide residue away from their fresh produce, whether they’re eating at home or at a restaurant.
Imidacloprid is an insecticide made to mimic nicotine, and has been linked to the bee collapse due to its high toxicity to honeybees. According to the EPA, it has the potential to leach to ground water. Carbendizim is a suspected endocrine disruptor and is a possible carcinogen according to pesticideinfo.org.
These fungicide and pesticide residues can build up in the body over time and impact health negatively, and some have been linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. Knowing that these can be mitigated with proper washing of a porous fruit such as a strawberry is a very powerful finding. Using a produce cleaner such as Eat Cleaner Fruit + Vegetable Wash Spray and Powder is lab proven to be over 99% more effective than water alone.
With your help we can educate our community on effectively cleaning food to significantly reduce foodborne illness and eliminate the “Dirty Dozen” completely. I would be delighted to introduce you to Dr. Ibrahim to share his expert insights on food safety and easy solutions for reducing the risk of illness through these outbreaks.
Please find the official video from Dr. Ibrahim and Mareya Ibrahim explaining these findings – https://youtu.be/YXgzy50kobg