January 21, 2009
Biologist Jennifer Arrington talks to WSET about food issues
This story aired on WSET on Jan. 20. It is reprinted with permission.
Across the US - The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to avoid all products containing peanut butter. The Salmonella scare has now spread to 43 states including Virginia. It is suspected of killing six people and infecting nearly 500 others.
One local expert says the problem of tainted foods will get worse over time.
Jeffrey Jackson, Out Grocery Shopping - "I ain't eating the peanut butter. Last night, I looked at it on the shelf in my house and I didn't eat it, I threw it away."
He's not alone. Cathy Jennings says she usually doesn't eat peanut butter. Now, she definitely won't.
Cathy Jennings, Grocery Shopping Today - "I am a little scared now."
Jennings remembers other recent recalls of tainted hamburger meat, tomatoes and dog food.
Jennings - "Where is it all coming from?"
Doctor Jennifer Arrington says bacteria like ecoli and salmonella have always been around, just on a smaller scale.
Dr. Jennifer Arrington, Randolph College (web) Biology Professor - "The main problem is this mass production."
Like with this peanut butter scare, once the product is shipped, it becomes nearly impossible to track it back to the source.
Dr. Arrington - "All it takes is one problem and then it is distributed all over."
What makes matters worse, new strains of bacteria have become more drug resistant.
Dr. Arrington - "They're just more dangerous to our body if left untreated."
She says one of the only ways to protect yourself is to thoroughly wash all your produce when you get home. Jennings says that's a given.
Jennings - "Everybody should be careful, where they go shopping, what they buy, and look what they're buying and who it is by and everything. So, be careful."
Doctor Arrington says many people are trying to avoid mass-packaged foods by shopping at local markets and even starting their own home gardens.