Saturday, August 6, 2011


At the end of April this year I posted some thoughts on "The Biggest Threat in the U.S. Food Supply." The post was triggered by a question someone asked me at a social event. I basically said that it depends on who you are. But now that I happened to re-read what I wrote, I realize I didn't address the issue of eating safely as you get older as clearly as I should have done. A comment by a reader did it much better. Whoever you are, thank you, and I hope you don't mind me quoting you:

"It also is a matter of age. If you are young you need to be worried about the long term risks, problems that build up over time. Young bodies are more able to fight off the short term risks too. When you are older the dye has been cast with the long term risks so there's not much point in over-worrying about them. And you are less able to fight off the short term risks, so they should be your main concern."

I really don't think I can phrase it any better. Of course, the short-term risks are mainly those microbes, and especially the bacteria that keep cropping up in our food supply - and, not just in America. The currently ongoing recall of multi-drug resistant Salmonella-contaminated turkey is an example. The huge E.coli outbreak (eventually traced to sprouted seeds) in Germany this past spring is another.

The longer-term risks are toxic substances such as certain chemicals, metals, hormones and animal drug residues that are not uncommon in food these days either, although probably caught less often.

So back to aging and the currently ongoing ground turkey recall in the U.S. In general, as you get into your so-called "golden years" (which may not be all that "golden" with all those extra aches and pains, your investment portfolio being hit by global recession, and your pension-plan at risk of going belly-up) don't make things worse by getting food poisoning. Be particularly careful to cook your food well, especially the meat and fish items. And, although it is cheaper, and your food-budget may be stretched, you may be better off avoiding ground meat and poultry, which tend to be contaminated more often. Consider saving by eating less of safer meat instead.

At least, in the case of meat, poultry and fish, the safety of your food is more under your control than with salad greens or tomatoes that are often eaten raw. Cook it very well, and handle with great care.

To your good health,

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