This Site Has Moved

I moved the blog some time ago to Please join in the discussion over there!

Monday, December 11, 2006

More E. Coli

E.Coli at Taco Bell; Green Onions Blamed

There was another E.Coli outbreak last week, this time at Taco Bell, that bastion of healthy eating. Officials have traced the outbreak to green onions. Given that I've written about E.Coli once before during the spinach outbreak, I won't go into all the details again. But the salient point is that E.Coli 0157:H7 (the offending strain that causes humans so much trouble) is not of vegetable kingdom origin. It comes from the manure of our improperly raised cows, those fed corn and other grains instead of grass. This manure may then be used directly as fertilizer or "just" taint the groundwater. Officials talk of regulating the produce industry; what they really need to be doing is taking a look at the feedlot meat industry and ways to reduce the growth of E.Coli, not just ways to control it after the fact. Obviously not having E.Coli 0157:H7 around is a better option than trying to destroy it afterwards.

Another point I'd like to throw out there is that E.Coli 0157:H7 is a direct example of natural selection in progress. The grain fed to the cows causes a much more highly acidic environment in the stomach than normal. This acidic environment kills off all but the acid-resistant bacteria. These acid-resistant bacteria then multiply, as all creatures do. Over time, those that are the most acid-resistant are given a better chance to pass on their DNA and behold, 0157:H7 becomes a new strain of E.Coli. It is a glaring example of survival of the fittest; 0157:H7 is most fit for a highly acidic environment and therefore, it thrives. If you change the environment by feeding the cows grass such that their stomach is not an acidic environment, 0157:H7 proliferation dies off quickly.