Attack of the Killer Vegetables

Attack of the Killer Vegetables

A study was published last week that has people thinking vegetables are bad for you. I had a chance to read the actual study and here are my thoughts.

The study did show that more illnesses (basically ‘food-poisoning’) were attributed to plant-based commodities such as fruits, nuts and vegetables (46%) than meat and poultry based commodities (22%). Amongst the plant-based foods, the most illnesses were seen from the leafy vegetables. That said, more deaths were attributed to animal-based foods (43%) than plant-based foods (25%).

This study was done by relying on the diseases being reported. Certain illnesses that come mostly from meat products were not reported. Just because a person gets “food poisoning” does not mean that they tell a doctor. This may or may not mean that those illnesses occurred, and could potentially change all of the results.

We have all been told how careful to be when handling meat products. This is with good reason, since most deaths are attributed to them. We don’t often get told how important it is to wash our vegetables. The norovirus, which is the most common cause of food poisoning (and the one responsible for most of the illnesses reported in this study) is incredibly easy to spread. Combine an easily spread virus with poor washing and I’m not surprised people are getting sick. The norovirus is also very easily killed with soap, so this is all preventable!

Bottom line: WASH YOUR VEGETABLES, don’t stop eating them!
Here is the actual study:
Painter JA, Hoekstra RM, Ayers T, Tauxe RV, Braden CR, Angulo FJ, et al. Attribution of foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths to food commodities by using outbreak data, United States, 1998–2008. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Mar