e-coli mystery?

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
Color me confused.....

The CDC and other agencies are trying to figure out how the e-coli virus got onto spinach leafs. As I drive the levies here in the Central Valley of California I see lots of folks picking crops by hand. I also see porta-potties spread among the fields, but don't see any obvious hand washing/sanitizing facilities. So, I've wondered for many years how/why we haven't seen more health problems.

Yes, I understand that the spinach in question apparently comes from the Salinas Valley (not that far away), but I suspect they have the same porta potties in the fields there.
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
The Porta-potties usually have waterless sanitizing hand wash inside.  Of course, nothing makes a person use it.
 

Wendy

Site Team
Joined
May 14, 2005
Posts
12,535
Location
Colorado
And people wonder why I grow my own veggies and double wash the stuff I buy in the grocery stores.
 

Jeff

Site Team
Joined
Apr 8, 2005
Posts
8,965
Location
SD/AZ
The Feds are theorizing that the ecoli was in the roots of the plants and that washing would not have made a difference. That is the reason for suspeting contaminated irrigation water.
 

Wendy

Site Team
Joined
May 14, 2005
Posts
12,535
Location
Colorado
Maybe not using the port-a-potties is how the irrigation water got contaminated???
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
Didn't know you'd worked in the fields Ned.
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
Jeff Cousins said:
That is the reason for suspeting contaminated irrigation water.

The Central Valley farms have been irrigated by Delta waters for many years. So what changed? Hm, not sure where Salinas Valley gets it's irrigation water - same place as Silicon Valley gets its drinking water maybe?
 

Tim Lassen

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 13, 2005
Posts
247
Location
San Diego
Pretty common but unfortunately not always newsworthy.  In addition to less than adequate facilities e-coli also transmitted thru drinking water.  I didn't see news article but can guess rash of sickness from e-coli.  A lot of the farms probably have portable drinking water tanks and supplies that are only used seasonably.  From one season to next the tanks are invaded by all sorts of critters..mice, rats, etc. looking for water.  Often the tanksare re-used without any cleaning or precautions..thus e-coli.
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
Tom said:
The Central Valley farms have been irrigated by Delta waters for many years. So what changed? Hm, not sure where Salinas Valley gets it's irrigation water - same place as Silicon Valley gets its drinking water maybe?

The Salinas Valley is just east of Monterey and extends north/south from Monterey Bay along the Salinas River.  Click HERE to see. 

The Valley may tap into the California Water Project at San Luis Lake but I do not know.  They do have the Salinas River and may have an aquafer they tap.  The problems sounds like they use surface water tho.
 

fredethomas

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 2, 2005
Posts
420
Location
SIERRA VISTA, AZ or on the road.
I was curious about this irrigation contamination too, and then got to remembering about all the rain that fell some time back.  Were these fields in the large amount of rainfall?  Wondered if the abundance of water might have 'floated some septic fields" into the spinach fields.  Would the time have been right for this crop of spinach to have been seedlings at the time?  Anyway, didn't think about the porta potties in the fields, but I thought they were sealed tanks in those things.  Doubt if one or two workers in the fields could have contaminated that much spinach by not washing their hands, but an overflowing septic field could sure cover a lot of ground.....  Daisy
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
Hi Daisy,

It's been a long time since we had a lot of rain, or at least it seems that way. Crops, at least here in the San Joaquin Valley, appear to turn from ploughing to harvest in very little time. I don't know specifically about spinach though.

If the source was irrigation water, I'd have a suspicion if it was here in the Delta, but I can't make the same guess for the Salinas Valley.

As for one or two folks not washing their hands .... every one of those spinach plants is picked by someone's hand and it's a good bet every one of the pickers went to the porta pottie at least once a day.

But, I wasn't trying to offer an answer, just making an observation. When we leave the house, we pass through many miles of fields with porta potties. If we head south, it becomes hundreds of miles.
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
48,629
Now it's lettuce, from the same valley. They've apparently found e-coli in some "secondary water" and have decided to play it safe.
 

Wendy

Site Team
Joined
May 14, 2005
Posts
12,535
Location
Colorado
Tom said:
Now it's lettuce, from the same valley. They've apparently found e-coli in some "secondary water" and have decided to play it safe.

Almost makes me want to give up being a vegetarian.......almost.
 

Ned

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Posts
25,107
Location
USA
Beef, it's what's for dinner!  Don't eat the green stuff :)
 
Top Bottom