Should organic foods be labeled, “May contain E.coli or Salmonella?”

Much has been made about the California’s right-to-know GMO labeling law. Supporters cite bogus science and discredited studies to bolster their view and dismiss any opponents of the law as paid shills of Monsanto. Many backers of the bill hope this is step one in getting GMOs banned altogether.

But, in the 16 years GMO products have been on the market, there hasn’t been one instance of any health related problems due specifically to GMOs. In fact, there have been many food borne illness outbreaks due to organic foods.

The E.coli outbreak in Germany that killed 50 people and hospitalized thousands in 2011 was caused by organic sprouts. Also, last year, sprouts from an Illinois organic farm sickened people in 26 states. These outbreaks didn’t come from conventional or GMO foods.

This year, an organic farm was responsible for at least 10 people being diagnosed with Campylobacter infections. What the hell is that?

According to the CDC:

Campylobacteriosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus Campylobacter. Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts one week. Some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection.

In 2011,  nine outbreaks occurred in the US.

In may a study published in the journal,  Clinical Infectious Diseases  found organic meats might have an increased toxoplasmosis risk. It is a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii.  The symptoms of toxoplasmosis include swollen lymph glands, aches and pains that last longer than a month. Many people carry the parasite, but are unaffected due to their string immune systems. The trend toward free-range food animals has increased the toxoplasmosis risk.

Let’s see what we have from this year:

Taylor Farms Retail, Inc. recalls Organic Baby Spinach because it may be contaminated with Salmonella.

FunFresh Foods recalled their World Berries Organic “Cacao Nibs”: E. coli.

Moonstruck Organic Cheese recalled  their Tomme d’Or cheeses: Listeria.

Mellace Family Brands Raw Organic Cashews. Salmonella.

I could go on but you get the point. In the past two years there have been 20 recalls of organic products for contamination.

Now, does this mean that organic foods should be banned?  No. It doesn’t. Perhaps along with the organic label there should be the warning: May contain e.Coli or Salmonella? No, there shouldn’t be one. There is an inherent risk in any type of food whether it be conventional, GMO or organic.

People have valid reasons for choosing organic, less pesticides and no antibiotic use are two reasons. But is not necessarily safer. Imagine if these recalls and outbreaks listed above had come from GMO foods. The anti-GMO crowd would be apoplectic and screaming so loud their tin foil hats would fall off.

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