Sunday, February 07, 2010

My Poor Tennis Partner!

I have mentioned my tennis partner, Natasha in past posts. She is a great person and I enjoy chatting with her. She sent me an e-mail this morning, telling me that she suspected that she got food poisoning from a turkey salad sandwich she bought at the Co-op in Hanover and was sick Friday night. She is feeling somewhat better today, but is weak and tired.
This got me to thinking.
Over the past 2 years I have heard of 2 other cases of "suspected" food poisoning from the same source. All have been prepared food - Natasha's turkey sandwich, Jon's parents prepared eggplant parmesan and a tennis pro's egg sandwhich - all from the Co-op.

I suspect that the problem lies in the food storage. In other words, all three of these cases involve food that was prepared, then packaged so that people could take it out of the refrigerated section and eat it then or take it to their destination.

Now, the Co-op is a huge chain of stores in the Upper Valley. They stock more "specialty" products than most grocery stores. Their clientele tend to be wealthy and liberal - , "educated" consumers - or consumers who are willing to pay more for products that they believe are either "green", "sustainable" or "environmentally friendly". Prices are FAR higher at the Co-op than at other grocery stores and the Coop shoppers feel satisfied to shop there, pay the high prices with the notion that they are willing to pay more for healthy products. .
I do not share these same beliefs about the Co-op.
(I question the authenticity of "organic" foods, the belief that the Co-Op is looking out for their shoppers and the idea that buying a can of beans means I am making a political statement.)

But, as far as food poisoning goes. It is a serious issue. It is mostly unreported, of Natasha, Dave the Jon's parents, none of them reported their illnesses.

1 in 3 Americans or 76,000,000 cases are reported annually. Of these 5,000 will die. Like any medical problem, the most severe cases happen to the very old, the very young and those whose immunity are compromised.
On February 3, 2o10, the Rhode Island Dept of Health announced a food poisioning outbreak in Daniele food products. Daniele released a statement voluntarily recalling their products in January.
I buy these products and didn't hear about the recall until today, when I researched food poisoning! I also researched any incidents of food poisoning reported from Co-Op foods and found nothing.

Here is a website that you can report any suspected case of food poisoning. Basically the National Database of Food Poisonings. They compile statistics and refer multiple cases to state offices. It is like a BBB for food poisonings.

The case of Daniele food products has been traced to some pepper that is used in their meat products. Daniele have since changed their supplier of pepper.

Food poisoning happens due to poor hygiene and/or poor food storage. The old adage - keep cold foods cold, hot foods hot is a basic rule of thumb. Most microbes develop in a warm environment. But, the food has to have been prepared under clean conditions with employees keep clean as well.

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