Death by Vegetable

Be careful, your vegetables amy be killing you? Wow, I have heard some slanted news as I was a teenager in the late 1960’s when the Vietnam War was going strong. The media would report almost anything except the war news. War news would often only receive a brief one line mention right before commercial break.This media hype has all the stink of big money in the background making a big story about nothing. In the bigger picture death by vegetable poisoning is not even a blip on the radar screen.

Let’s look at some other sources and some other non vegetable facts. Here is the abstract from the Center For Disease Control’s findings which prompted the death by vegetable hype:

Each year, >9 million foodborne illnesses are estimated to be caused by major pathogens acquired in the United States. Preventing these illnesses is challenging because resources are limited and linking individual illnesses to a particular food is rarely possible except during an outbreak. We developed a method of attributing illnesses to food commodities that uses data from outbreaks associated with both simple and complex foods. Using data from outbreak-associated illnesses for 1998–2008, we estimated annual US foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths attributable to each of 17 food commodities. We attributed 46% of illnesses to produce and found that more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity. To the extent that these estimates reflect the commodities causing all foodborne illness, they indicate that efforts are particularly needed to prevent contamination of produce and poultry. Methods to incorporate data from other sources are needed to improve attribution estimates for some commodities and agents.

So a few hundred people died this year from food borne illness on vegetables. Let’s look at other health facts. Starting with the eating of red meat:

Per the Los Angeles Times, a pretty reputable news source, they had this to say back in March. It is also supported by the China Study.

All red meat is risky, a study finds

Eating any amount or type increased the chances of early death among adults tracked more than 20 years. …any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years.

For instance, adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.

The London Telegraph ran this story this month:

The Department of Health was last night urged to review its guidance on red meat after a study found that eating almost half the daily recommended amount can significantly increase the risk of dying early from cancer and heart disease.

The Food Poisoning Bulletin wrote what foods were involved in 2012 food poisonings:

10 Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks Of 2012

Three of the foods: tuna, cheese and mangoes were imported.  Five of the food sources: cantaloupe, ground beef, spinach and spring mix, clover sprouts, and peanut butter, were produced domestically. (The specific food source for two of the outbreaks was not determined.)

Here comes the hype, led off by The Huffington Post:

Leafy Greens Leading Source Of Food Poisoning Illnesses, Study Shows

A big government study has fingered leafy greens like lettuce and spinach as the leading source of food poisoning, a perhaps uncomfortable conclusion for health officials who seem to not want us to eat our vegetables.

Now lets look at some other data presented as fact from the Center For Disease Control (CDC)

“Heart Disease Facts

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.1
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.1
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.1
  • Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.2
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.3 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.”

Moving on to death by Drunk Driving. I found these numbers as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The figures are from 2010. The data compliments of The Century  Council.  I suppose these numbers are harder to come by than death by vegetable.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 32,885 people died in traffic crashes in 2010 in the United States (latest figures available), including an estimated 10,228 people who died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for 31% of all traffic deaths last year.

On smoking, the CDC weighs in with these numbers:

In the United States, smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually (i.e., about 443,000 deaths per year, and an estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure) (Worldwide there are over an estimated 5,000,000 smoking related deaths a year as reported by the CDC.)

There have been about 600,000 deaths by Heart Attack in America each year, helped along by eating red meat per the CDC data. The CDC also reports that there were about 443,000 smoking deaths. World wide the same source estimates more than 5 million people die each year from smoking. Let’s not forget the 32,000 that died from drunk driving,  We had less than 500 deaths by vegetable poisoning in 2012 verses over a million deaths from eating red meat, smoking, and drunk driving.

From a 2008 harris poll as noted on wikipedia:

…found that “approximately 0.5%, or 1 million [Americans] are vegans…

I haven’t heard any Vegetarians whining about vegetable deaths, what gives? They should be up in arms, writing every government official they can, shouldn’t they? Perhaps Vegetarians realize they could be accidentally killed before they leave their home in the morning, and certainly before they make it back home for the night.

Yet there was the media hype on several major web pages about a few hundred deaths brought about by contaminated fruits and vegetables. Would you like some raw broccoli to go with your red meat, wine, and after dinner cigar or cigarette?

Disclaimer: I eat red meat, I eat white meat, I occasionally eat fish. I also eat a large amount of vegetables to go with my meat. I have nothing against meat eating. I am more than familiar with smoking as a number of family members died from the same smoking related illness. I have yet to hear of anyone I know die from vegetable poisoning. And I thought politics was full of biased information.

I am never sure if the media is that desperate for Shock Value, or it is manipulation by big money somewhere to change the focus of the average American onto something that is not important in the long run.

America is in fiscal crisis.  The War in the Middle East is not slowing down. Floods have devastated major areas of our coastline. Global Warming has not gone away. Yet there is a rash of hyped up articles about something that does not really have a major impact on America in light of other things we take into our bodies.

Quick, look at that!

Oh, you missed it….