At least 22 people have been killed, and thousands more infected, by a virulent strain of E. coli that's sweeping through Europe, in what's being called the "deadliest E. coli outbreak in modern history." The outbreak is a result of a particularly toxic strain of the bacteria, and German and European Union officials have yet to pinpoint its source — though cucumbers and organic sprouts farms have been suspected. Could something like this happen in America?
Be afraid, America: "Could this happen here?" asks Marion Nestle in The Atlantic. "You bet." This is exactly why we need to give the FDA more resources and more authority to implement food safety measures. Instead, Congress badly wants to cut the FDA's budget and weaken the agency. But this outbreak clearly shows that we need to do the opposite to keep Americans safe.
"Europe's E. Coli outbreak: It could happen here"
Well, European officials are handling this especially poorly: The continent's "wishy-washy back-and-forth" incompetence has been striking, says Dr. Michael Osterholm with the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, as quoted by MSNBC. In Europe, food safety officials tend to focus on tracing the bacterial cultures, rather than tracking what infected people ate and where it came from. Health officials in the U.S. know better.
"Waffling over E. coli cause points to 'incompetence,' US expert says"
Still, we need to be aware: We take food safety for granted, especially when we buy local and organic, says Adriana Velez at The Stir. But buying food at the farmers market doesn't guarantee it's risk-free. And eating food from small local farms carries many of the same risks that consuming goods from large food companies does. When it comes to foods like raw sprouts, it's important to remember how risky and prone to bacteria they are. "In fact, the FDA considers eating raw sprouts on the same level of risk as eating raw beef — not medium rare burgers, raw beef."
"Why buying organic can't save you from E. coli"