A Nasty Organic Hepatitis Outbreak


Despite what apologist and promoters say, organic foods are not safer, and can be deadly

by Mischa Popoff

A recent hepatitis outbreak in USDA “certified-organic” frozen berry mix has people worrying and wondering what steps are being taken to ensure that organic food is safe. Unfortunately, not many.

A remarkably similar case occurred in Germany three years ago. Forty-four people died and 3,700 fell ill after eating E. coli-contaminated certified-organic bean sprouts. Hundreds of survivors will require kidney dialysis the rest of their lives. The cause was never definitively determined, although a nearby cattle operation was suspected of contaminating water used to sprout the organic sprouts.

All this raises critical questions. What measures were taken to ensure that water used on this organic sprouting operation was safe? Was there any testing? Is there any organic field testing now in response to that German tragedy? What about numerous other outbreaks in certified-organic food – like outbreaks of listeria, E. coli and salmonella in organic spinach for instance?

Have such incidents provided incentives for organic industry leaders to recognize the need to test crops in the field, to ensure that they’re safe? Have they prodded government safety inspectors to require such tests? Are organic crops already tested to ensure that these kinds of things don’t happen again?

Sadly, the answer to all these questions is no or nothing. Instead, with steady media help, incidents that should spur the organic industry to take action invariably become mere bumps along the road toward expanding a food system that organic promoters hope will eventually replace conventional farming.

Meanwhile, the organic industry and news media promote regular stories about speculative (and even ludicrous) claims that genetically-modified (GM) crops might pose risks to human health. Recent articles about minute traces of GM wheat getting into a Japan-bound shipment represent just one example.

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