The core building blocks of food are sugars, starch and oil. These three things provide our basic carbon and energy requirements. Different plants have unique levels and available proportions of these essential building blocks.
Seeds containing starch can have a descent amount of oil compared to oil seeds, which have no starch. Starch in the diet is usually provided by grains and vegetables, like potatoes.
Sugars freely available in sweet food are fructose, glucose, and sucrose adequate food safety practices lead to less. There is much to be read and learnt about these sugars beyond the scope of this article.
Oils in the diet are naturally obtained from foods with high oil content. Avocados are known for their high oil content. Nuts are another source of oils in the diet. We don’t need to consume oil (cooking or otherwise) to receive adequate oils.
Vegetarians will passionately tell you we don’t need meat in our diets to receive adequate Nutrition levels. The human body can happily and fundamentally gain its nutritional requirements from non-meat sources. Vegetarians know this and do it successfully. Many animal species eat nothing more than plant based nutrition.
There is ongoing debate about the nutritional levels of Organically grown food compared to food grown using modern traditional methods. One segment missing from these debates is the amount of pesticide residues on non-organic produce. The emphasis is focused only on the nutritional value.
Although scientific research and logical opinion differ, my logical view is that a plant will absorb the nutrients it requires regardless of their source. The important point ism, was the source real and natural or synthetic?
Organic, Natural food is grown with the idea that a plant obtains its nutrition from nature. Plants have been growing successfully for centuries, long before man and science discovered a way to synthetically manufacture a fake version of nature.
The best way to determine if a plant or its fruit is nutritionally adequate is to observe the plant or fruit itself. If it looks healthy and delicious it most likely is. Plants show signs of inadequate nutrition by changes in their growth habit changes in leaf colour, poor fruit production or smaller than expected plant growth.
Apart from the controls stated under the Pennington recommendations, thorough cooking food to at least 70°C (USA) or 75°C (UK) core temperature will kill the pathogen. Why there are temperature differences between the USA and UK is unknown. Temperatures above 60°C will kill E coli, as with most food safety pathogens.
The majority of illnesses and deaths attributable to EHEC relate to developing countries. In the UK there are adequate potable water and toilet facilities. In developing countries 1.1 billion people are without clean drinking water and 2.4 billion people without adequate sanitation.
These countries do not have enough money to finance any education or awareness programmes to control EHEC. Many people live in poverty and, because of poor diets, cannot fight EHEC infection. Diagnosis of infection can be quite difficult and time consuming in developed countries. In developing countries diagnosis is quite often too late, due to lack of equipment, expertise and logistical problems of location. Quite often people suffering from EHEC are living in the deserts, forests, mountain ranges, where there are no direct communication routes.
Spread of EHEC has been quite extensive in the last 30 years from its roots in the USA to spreading to a global audience. This is due to more travel, import/export of contaminated foodstuffs and poor hygiene control when the pathogen emerges. Where countries have identified EHEC, doctors have prescribed antibiotics, resulting in antibiotic resistant strains.
The ideal situation regarding control of EHEC would be localised elimination followed by global eradication. However, as E coli is a natural commensal of humans and EHEC a symbiont of ruminants, elimination and eradication is going to be impossible due to its ubiquitous nature.
The only way forward is by more vigorous controls. In the UK, for example, the regulations should be tighter with stiffer penalties for the food industry. Food safety training should be given a priority in schools and industry, especially in abattoirs and fruit and salad farms. It has been suggested that all raw meat in the UK is contaminated with pathogens including EHEC. Although the infection can be killed by thorough cooking, cross contamination caused by touching the infected raw meat, not washing hands, and touching other surfaces causes many problems. If high risk food such as sandwiches, cooked meats, buffet items are placed on the contaminated surface, the EHEC are transferred to the food. It has been shown that EHEC can survive for up to 60 days on a stainless steel surface, which has not been adequately cleaned. Raw food must be kept separate from ready to eat, high risk food.