The consumption of leafy greens has increased in the U.S., as has the incidence of food-borne illness from consumption of leafy greens. However, the rate of illness has increased more than the rate of consumption, and researchers cannot figure out why.
I am not a scientist, but I am a cook and a grocery shopper, and I can tell them quite definitively: people are eating more leafy greens because they can buy them in bags that proclaim that the greens are "triple washed"! And they think that means they do not have to wash them, which is why they are getting sick more often.
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Over the time periods relevant to the study, the consumption of organic foods increased dramatically. The increase in food-borne illnesses above-and-beyond a consumption increase was particularly acute from 1996-2005, as compared with the previous measured period. This period coincides with a massive increase in the availability of organic foods and in the consumption of organic greens. Such greens are grown in various composts and manures which increase potential exposure to E. coli and other bacteria. Obviously, careful washing is even more important in that situation and the introduction of “pre-washed” and “triple-washed” greens only serves to further lull the consumer into thinking vegetables are sufficiently washed.
Then there are people like me who are too paranoid to eat raw greens regardless of the washing. I cook them all!
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