New Film, Food Inc. Looks At The Problem
With E. coli in the headlines from contaminated cookie dough to hamburgers, a new vaccine is being developed to keep the deadly bacteria inside the cattle where it originated.
Epitopix LLC, a Minnesota veterinary company, is planning to market Escherichia coli Bacterial Extract, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The vaccine reportedly reduces the shedding of the bacterium strain into the food supply by as much as 85 percent.
E. coli 0157 is carried through cattle feces. The vaccine, injected into the cattle, prevents the E. coli from getting to the iron in a cow’s intestines, which feeds E. coli.
E. coli sickens about 70,000 people a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most recent recall from E. coli contamination was conducted by the JBS Swift Beef Co. of Greely, Colorado, and the largest meat producer in the world. It has recalled more than 400,000 pounds of beef while 23 people have been sickened and two have experienced kidney failure.
E. coli 0157 is a species of bacteria that causes bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Young children are most likely to have severe symptoms. You are encouraged to wash your hands thoroughly after having contact with farm animals.
Food Inc, a New Documentary
In most cases of contamination, particularly the Toll House cookie dough, microbiologists are still perplexed how the bacteria, got into the food.
The new documentary “Food Inc.” offers a close up look at American agribusiness and some answers.
“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000,” Michael Pollan, the food writer, declares in the film.
The documentary includes the story of Kevin who died 12 days after eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
While the CDC and FDA offer no connection between concentrated food lots where cattle shed 80 percent of their E. coli, to our food in the field, this film not only visits that but points the finger at the abundant antibiotic use in factory farming operations. Today many of our most effective antibiotics have been rendered useless.
The film concludes that you can vote with your dollar by buying locally grown and seasonal food from farmers you trust.
In 1993, Jack in the Box hamburgers that were undercooked and infected with E. coli killed four children and sickened hundreds. Unpasteurized apple juice made by Odwalla killed a 16-month-old Colorado girl. Spinach in the fields of California’s Central Coast have been infected, most recently in 2006 when three people were killed and more than 200 sickened nationwide.
At the University of California, Davis, a team investigating the spinach incident finds that a cattle herd a mile away from the crops tested positive for the same bacteria that was found in the spinach. Another theory is that wild pigs defected in the spinach fields infecting them with 0157.
"That's why the vaccine is one more intervention to have," says Michele Jay-Russell, an epidemiologist at Davis. But she warns, "It's not the end-all and be-all, and it doesn't mean everyone can relax." #