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Killer Cucumbers and Global Food

There is a latest wave of preoccupation in Europe, as in Germany there have been 10 people killed and many more sick by cucumbers believed to be imported from Spain. The cucumbers are believed to be infected with E.coli, which leaves people with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). As the BBC article explains:

Most of the cases have been in the area around Hamburg. The Sweden-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said this outbreak was “one of the largest described of HUS worldwide and the largest ever reported in Germany”. It said: “While HUS cases are usually observed in children under five years of age, in this outbreak 87% are adults, with a clear predominance of women (68%).” HUS cases have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, and linked to German travel. A scientist from Munster university, Helge Karch, warned that the spread of infection was not over, and secondary infections could be passed from person to person. Czech authorities said the European Union’s rapid warning system had told them of an importation of the cucumbers into the Czech Republic.

This highlights the globalized nature of our current food production, and the dangers and benefits of such a widespread distribution system. A  scary study on fish farms illustrates a similar danger. Yet those advocates on exclusive local production, will see that there are many problems of sustainability and benefits of global food production and  consumption in this study  on apples, where exclusive local consumption uses more energy overall.

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