How clean are the fruits and vegetables we eat?
Posted on June 6th, 2011

Dr Hector Perera UK

Whether we shop in super markets or in local markets, for fruits and vegetables we must expect them with some dust, soil, and bacteria as they are being harvested, handled, packed, and transported. Usually many people don’t suffer by eating fruits and vegetable because they are supposed to be healthy eating but from time to time these get contaminated with germs and bacteria. Sometimes traces of pesticides, fertilizers, weed killer residues and even wax may be found in contamination of fruits and vegetables. If you keep on eating fruits and vegetables that are not properly washed, in the long run, exposure to these chemicals might cause cancer. An apple a day keeps the doctor away but thinks before you take the first bite! How about a banana?

What’s on these?

 Unwashed salads contain a lot of parasites waiting to occupy our internal organs and make us sick. Human round worm (nematodes, whose eggs, sticking to the unwashed vegetables, are carried to the human intestines where the worms hatch out and thrive).

It is possible that eight kinds of tape worms (eggs are transferred to the humans in a similar way), not only that dog worm (a variety of round worm) and  E coli (bacteria which causes watery stools and fever) could be in them.

The possible list of the micro organisms doesn’t end there, among other possible ones, Giardia Lamblia (a single celled parasite which causes diarrhoea, stomach pain and vomiting) and Toxoplasma gondii (a parasite which is transferred through cat faeces may also come with unwashed fruits and vegetables. Why the rats are dangerous to human health, because the snails and slugs that might eat the faeces of rat. These might hide in between the leafy vegetables or in crevices of vegetables. The rat faeces have some kind of lung worms that might get into the human body through unwashed fruits and vegetables. Water removes only the dirt that is visible.

 Fruits and vegetables served in hotels

It is worth while to think twice before you eat leafy vegetables and fruit cocktails, ice cream with fruit salads, served in hotels. We assume that, fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and cucumber are healthy to eat but the question is how clean they are? In most buffets, eat as much as you like places, hotels and in take away places that means in very busy places, would you think they have taken all that care to wash and clean these fruits and vegetables?

In some Sri Lankan hotels they serve absolutely delicious, mouth watering food of all varieties, with a temptation to eat or at least to taste most dishes served. It’s unavoidable to think twice, how carefully they have been prepared. I read several articles in leading papers, how the health authorities have raided some small hotels to find the unhygienic conditions inside the hotel kitchens. They have found the kitchens are infested with cockroaches, rats or mice with their droppings all over the place, including on some stored food. All kinds of meat are left outside the freezers due to bulk buying for more profit, making a fly’s haven. The kitchen floors are covered with dirt, grit, mud, floors with cracks harbouring more germs. Not much to say about the filthy smell that emerges from the inside as well as from outside kitchen drains. How would you like to eat food prepared from these unhygienic kitchens?

Home made

Home made salads are fresher, tastier and most importantly, safer, same is true with home made sprouts.

Vegetables like carrot, radish, turnip, many verities of leafy vegetables such as leeks, spinach, salad leaves, cabbage, “gotukola”, [centinella asiatica], mukunuwenna [A Sri Lankan vegetable] and related vegetables, grow inside the soil and so they require thorough cleansing before they are consumed, cooked or raw. Sometimes they are grown in marshy lands which are frequently flooded with the dirtiest water one can think about. Leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, cabbage and all those vegetables, which we may eat raw, need to be made infection free. Cooking kills bacteria and protozoa but it also kills some of the essentials like vitamin A. The question is have the food been properly cleaned before cooking?

Health officials recommend exercising extra caution when cooking meat and vegetables; don’t rule out alternative infection sources like contaminated water.

Cooking destroys all food nutrients?

In fact, certain nutrient or phyto-chemical levels are actually boosted or enhanced during cooking, for example the anti-oxidant lycopene that’s present in tomato products. Heating tomatoes makes lycopene more available to the body, not less available. How about a tomato soup?

 E.coli, Food poisoning

 The first symptom is diarrhoea, and in more severe cases, this is typically followed by blood in the stool and massive cramping, this is what some German scientist concluded in the recent out break due to the bacterium E. coli “”…” enterohemorrhagic E.

The scientists found out that if the fields are fertilized with liquid manure, then the EHEC bacteria can make its way on to salad or vegetables sold in local or in supermarkets. Now we have a lot of pre-packed and prepared salads for sale that may contain bacteria, can we call them a, “variety pack of bacteria”?

I have seen liquid cow droppings are used as manure for some vegetables such as spinach.  Which manure was used to grow, the bean stalk in the story of “Jack and the bean stalk”? 

One Response to “How clean are the fruits and vegetables we eat?”

  1. Asbestos Attorney Says:

    Being safe when handling and cooking your food is crucial. Parasites and bacteria can cause serious harm to the human body. Thanks for the tips, TM

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