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by Fran on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 01:52:40 AM EST
NYT: Leafy Green Sewage

FARMERS and food safety officials still have much to figure out about the recent spate of E. coli infections linked to raw spinach. So far, no particular stomachache has been traced to any particular farm irrigated by any particular river.

....
First, some basic facts about this usually harmless bacterium: E. coli is abundant in the digestive systems of healthy cattle and humans, and if your potato salad happened to be carrying the average E. coli, the acid in your gut is usually enough to kill it.

But the villain in this outbreak, E. coli O157:H7, is far scarier, at least for humans. Your stomach juices are not strong enough to kill this acid-loving bacterium, which is why it's more likely than other members of the E. coli family to produce abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and, in rare cases, fatal kidney failure.

Where does this particularly virulent strain come from? It's not found in the intestinal tracts of cattle raised on their natural diet of grass, hay and other fibrous forage. No, O157 thrives in a new -- that is, recent in the history of animal diets -- biological niche: the unnaturally acidic stomachs of beef and dairy cattle fed on grain, the typical ration on most industrial farms. It's the infected manure from these grain-fed cattle that contaminates the groundwater and spreads the bacteria to produce, like spinach, growing on neighboring farms.

In 2003, The Journal of Dairy Science noted that up to 80 percent of dairy cattle carry O157. (Fortunately, food safety measures prevent contaminated fecal matter from getting into most of our food most of the time.) Happily, the journal also provided a remedy based on a simple experiment. When cows were switched from a grain diet to hay for only five days, O157 declined 1,000-fold.

by Fran on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 02:09:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Happily, the journal also provided a remedy based on a simple experiment. When cows were switched from a grain diet to hay for only five days, O157 declined 1,000-fold.

Unhappily, industrial agriculture is not organized to feed cattle with principally grass and hay, but silage and grain-based concentrates. Plans for the future? More maize (corn) and soy. So expect more pollution from unbalanced cow intestines.

We know what healthy farming is, but the money-spinners don't want to do it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 03:47:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are oats (avoine) any good for cattle?
by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 07:16:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not generally fed to cattle or sheep. But they are to horse and donkeys, in limited amounts.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 02:37:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very limited amounts ... you should see the days when they're fed too many oats for the amount of work they're doing ... whooooo.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 03:37:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tehran Times: Sugar linked with mental problems in Norway study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Oslo teens who drank the most sugary soft drinks also had more mental health problems such as hyperactivity and distress, Norwegian researchers reported on Thursday.

Their study of more than 5,000 Norwegian 15- and 16-year-olds showed a clear and direct association between soft drink intake and hyperactivity, and a more complex link with other mental and behavioral disorders.

They surveyed the students, asking them how many fizzy soft drinks with sugar they had a day, and then questions from a standard questionnaire used to assess mental health.

The teens who reported skipping breakfast and lunch were among the heaviest soft drink consumers, Dr. Lars Lien and colleagues at the University of Oslo found.

"There was a strong association between soft drink consumption and mental health problems among Oslo 10th graders," they wrote in their report, published in the American Journal of Public Health. "This association remained significant after adjustment for social, behavioral and food-related disorders."

by Fran on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 02:29:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SuGaR MaKeS PeOpLe JiTeRrY? Ya ThInK?!
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 06:54:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
G-o-o-d t-h-i-n-g t-h-a-t I r-a-r-e-l-y e-a-t a-n-y t-h-e-n, p-f-f-f-f-f-o-u-u-u-u-u.
by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 07:01:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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