Here is an odd story. Apparently lettuce and carrots have been making people sick.
In early October, the Ministry of Primary Industries got two reports from ESR updating them on over 120 cases of yersinia pseudotuberculosis (including 38 hospitalisations) that they believe most likely trace back to lettuce and carrots.
According to the Ministry of Health, yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a nasty little bacteria that gives you a super nasty tummy , but is usually quite rare in New Zealand. Lately though there has been a very noticeable upswing in the number of cases.
You get the bacteria through contact with contaminated faeces, soil, animals, water or food. Foods to date that have been reported as contaminated includes lettuce, grated raw carrot and chocolate milk.
It is fairly easy to avoid – just remember to wash your veges and don’t play with animal poo!
But why this outbreak, and why now?
According to a grower’s representative, the most likely culprit, is “the yersinia pathogen could spread from animal waste into water supplies, then into a vegetable growing area”.
In other words, water run-off from dairy or animal farms contaminating our lakes and rivers, or just run-off getting into the food supply chain by doing what water does and running off to surrounding land. Land we use to grow food. We have a lot of water, a lot of high rainfall. We have to stop proposed intensification plans by the Dairy Industry; not just for the cows, because seriously, I would like to at least be able to eat a salad without the risk of food poisoning.
If you want more information on the ESR reports visit the Ministry of Primary Industries – reluctantly made publicly available.