It appears that we are hearing more and more about problems with our food and water supplies becoming contaminated and posing a risk to our health. Illnesses will arise, oftentimes life threatening, and it is up to health departments to very quickly determine the source of an outbreak. Supermarkets rush to issue nation-wide recalls on many products and multinational corporations go into rapid damage control to ensure their brand does not permanently suffer.
We have seen a recent E-Coli outbreak all over the United States that was found to have been from Romaine lettuce. Further investigation found the source was a contaminated irrigation channel in Yuma, Arizona. Over 36 States were afflicted, with over 200 people contracting E-Coli poisoning and 5 people losing their lives. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the contamination, which as seen from previous outbreaks, could possibly stem from contact with livestock, such as cattle or pigs.
In Australia, there was another recent recall of a frozen fruit product from supermarkets, due to the risk of contracting Hepatitis A. The majority of frozen fruit in Australia is imported from Asia and South America. One company in particular has had 3 recalls in the last 3 years. This leads one to question, how are they still allowed to provide a product to the general public if they cannot ensure food safety, especially when it is sourced from foreign countries with potentially less strident production regulations?
As consumers, we go to the supermarkets and place our trust that the food and products we are buying are safe for us to consume. Unfortunately, things cannot always be safeguarded to ensure our food and water security. Accidents and negligence can happen. A farm worker may cough and sneeze all over fruit they are picking; a young shop assistant may forget to wash their hands after their bathroom break; some livestock may defecate in an irrigation canal that supplies water to be sprayed all over produce.
Overall, in regards to ensuring food safety, we can always try to grow our own. There’s nothing better than plucking fresh picked ripe tomatoes off the vine for a home made tomato puree or salsa. There is an innate pleasure and satisfaction from growing your own food; a real connection to the Earth. It’s also nice to teach our children that real food grows in the ground and on trees and never needs to get surrounded in plastic.
If growing your own food is not practical due to lack of green space or inner city dwelling, then attempt to ensure you make smarter food choices; choose locally grown and sourced, and preferably organic produce. Sometimes people find that buying organic can be expensive, but if you eliminate a lot of the excess processed and packaged foods from your diet, you can find it to be affordable. Spend your money wisely. If you’re on a budget, you can look at just purchasing organic fruits & vegetables that are on the Dirty Dozen list; such as berries and lettuce. Of course, even organic food cannot be guaranteed to remain free of contaminants, but ethical production and handling is the best defence we currently have.
In regards to water safety, we obviously recommend using Waters Co water filters, not just for our drinking water but for all food preparation as well. When it comes to washing, boiling or steaming all of our fresh produce, it’s not desirable to be contaminating our food with bacteria or chemicals found in our regular tap water or well systems. We have a range of products to suit all household sizes, with jugs and bench top systems. Water filtration and locally sourced organic produce is the safest way for us to ensure our food and water security.
Following on from last week’s blog about the contamination of Geelong’s public water fountains, this week we learn about the French taking it up to a whole other level.
How safe is a public water source?
It has been reported this week that high levels of lead have been detected in the public drinking fountains in Victoria’s Geelong.
The local council have proceeded in shutting down 40 fountains and began conducting tests on over 140 fountains around the rural city. There have however, been assurances from Barwon Water that the contamination is not affecting the wider municipal water supply.