Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Whaddaya think's in the tacos?**

The E. coli outbreak that swept central Jersey and surrounding states now seems to have been traced to green onions distributed to local Taco Bell restaurants. So, no Jersey jokes allowed.
Cue the renaissance of this 60's hit off the American Graffiti soundtrack.
I'm just glad reporters mostly shied away from the obvious "Run for the Border" headline.
Nothing's been confirmed, but Taco Bell's parent company is pulling all green onions from its shelves. For a slightly propagandistic (is that a word?) briefing on E. coli O157:H7, the virulent strain behind the food poisoning, pick yourself up a copy of Fast Food Nation.
What I remember from college is that this particular variety of E. coli produces a toxin that inhibits protein synthesis in a way similar to ricin, and often results in substantial kidney damage.
When I was a college freshman, we had case studies in our general chemistry course, and the one in the nuclear chemistry chapter was based on the Jack-in-the-Box E. coli outbreak of the 1990's. As I recall, we discussed the background of the case and debated the merits of beef irradiation.
This link about irradiated beef is pretty thought-provoking. Show me a guy who goes to McDonald's to boost his daily intake of essential vitamins, and I'll show you a doctor running a health website who does not believe in vaccinations or mammograms.
Quite a bit of the news coverage for this Taco Bell incident refers to Jack-in-the-Box, more so than the more recent E. coli outbreak in spinach. That doesn't make sense to me unless it's eventually demonstrated that the ground beef in the tacos is to blame. Maybe newswriters just think it's better to compare/ link fast food restaurants in their coverage.
I guess this is just a wake up call to me and any other non-red-meat eaters who are smugly thinking "this won't happen to me". I haven't eaten at Taco Bell in ages, but I got really cozy with arugula earlier this year.

** Hopefully a few people remember the TV show "You Can't Do That on Television"....



At 8:50 AM, Anonymous GaChemist said...

I can't help but laugh every time I eat arugula. It's having the best week ever!

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

would you mind putting something on your blog that actually requires inventive thought as opposed to regurgitation of various media reports?


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