The outbreak of a new and virulent strain of E coli in Germany serves to remind us the importance of food safety, especially with regard to preparing meals for preschool children. Usually when we think of food poisoning, we think of under-cooked meat or eggs - we don't consider that salad can kill.
The source of the E. coli outbreak has still not been traced. Suspicion initially fell on cucumbers supplied to the German market from Spain, but increasingly this is looking unlikely. Currently in Germany, advice is to avoid eating cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes.
How could foods as innocuous as cucumbers and tomatoes pick up deadly strains of E. coli in the first place? Researchers are focusing on the possibility that the deadly bacteria comes from manure used in growing organic crops.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the UK gives the following advice:-
Be safe and make sure that you prepare food with care, whether you are preparing meat, fruit, vegetables or even salad!
According to research, some baby foods have been found to contain an "alarming" level of toxic contaminants including arsenic, lead and cadmium! Something as innocent as baby rice, or fruit baby porridge has been found to contain albeit low levels of these poisons.
The researchers claim that feeding infants twice a day on shop-bought baby foods such as rice porridge can increase the baby's exposure to arsenic by up to fifty times when compared to breast feeding alone.
Officials at the Food Standards Agency and the European Commission are conducting an urgent review of the baby foods. Products tested included brands such as Organix, Hipp and Nestlé - many of which are available in our supermarkets.
Parents all over the country trust these brands and are possibly unaware of this research and the implications. Just to be clear, none of the toxic levels exceeded official safety limits, but scientists believe they are still of concern if fed to very young children, suggesting that the guidelines themselves are too lenient.
New guidelines have been called for as well as an urgent review. Babies are particularly at risk because they develop so rapidly at a young age. The Sweedish researchers said the toxins come from the raw materials. And that all traces should be banned from baby food, not just levels reduced. One way would be to source the rice from different parts of the world. The rice, wheat and grains absorb the aresnic from the soil as they grow. Ambient levels vary across the world.
The World Health Organization recently changed the recommended levels of arsenic in our diet because fears that it can cause cancer even at very low levels. Is this another case where breast is best?
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