Vegetables sold in British supermarkets are riddled with the deadly norovirus. The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) researchers found that one lettuce in every 20 contained the vomiting virus.
The virus which is spread by human waste was further discovered in one in every 27 packs of frozen raspberries, but experts cautioned that many more fresh foods may be harbouring the norovirus, which has become Britain’s most common food poisoning virus.
About 3 million people are infected by the virus every year, many of whom are children, and it can be fatal in extremely young and old people, as well as those with impaired immune systems. Each year it claims up to 300 victims.
No one should expect to find a norovirus in their lettuce or raspberry’s which suggests grave carelessness on the part of the suppliers, and when the virus is discovered it’s obvious that administration on food hygiene is not being adhered to and that in consequence, the pathogen is entering the food supply chain, and out of the 568 lettuces, mostly grown in Britain, the norovirus is detected in 30 of them.
Seven out of 310 batches of fresh raspberries and 10 out of 274 samples of frozen raspberries also tested positive for the virus, and the results of the YouGov Omnibus study will make you want to avoid shaking hands for the rest of your life.
The numbers revealed that significant minorities of people do not always wash their hands after going to the bathroom, with men, in particular, being the biggest offenders.
Not only that, confusing instructions on supermarket frozen vegetable packages could be putting customers in danger of life-threatening bugs, and British supermarkets had to recall 43 sweetcorn-based frozen vegetable products over concerns they could contain the listeria bacteria following an explosion of infections across Europe killed nine people.
The bugs can cause listeriosis, an illness with flu-like manifestations which can be deadly in the elderly, young children or pregnant women, and health and safety experts have warned that vegetables like green beans, broccoli and sweetcorn should be cooked or microwaved from frozen to destroy the potentially-deadly bacteria.
It should not be defrosted and consumed cold, but despite the problems, not all British supermarkets put clear warnings on their frozen vegetables, and it was analysed that 71 packs of frozen vegetables which could not be eaten raw, including green beans, broccoli florets, baby carrots, petit pois and sweetcorn, from Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrison’s, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl, only those sold by Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Aldi carried a specific “do not eat raw” warning.
About half of the packets had directions telling customers they “should” or “must” cook the product from frozen, but the others only contained cooking instructions which suggested it was best to cook the vegetables, but it’s only ever safe to defrost frozen vegetables and consume them raw if the package explicitly says they were ready to eat from defrost without cooking.
The key is how the vegetables are prepared after picking. Some vegetables are blanched before being frozen, to prevent enzyme and bacterial growth, but most are frozen raw.
Vegetables are in danger of being contaminated by airborne particles, waterborne particles and soil based particles because there is an abundance of viruses and bacteria all around us, but we don’t see these, but they are there.
Cooking ensures vegetables are safe to consume, and each package should say what needs to be done to ensure that safety and people should always follow the cooking instructions, and bacteria is a more common problem in frozen vegetables than fresh because it’s more likely to have been imported and handled by a number of suppliers before reaching customers in the United Kingdom.
However, following the listeria outbreak and in order to be as helpful as possible to customers, the words “do not eat raw” was added to bags of vegetables, and it’s essential that food manufacturers give the required information in order that the food can be used and consumed safely, such as giving directions that food should be cooked for a specific period of time.
And if important safety information is not given with some foods then this should lead to its removal or recall from the market and possible enforcement action taken upon the food companies.