Sunday, 5 June 2011

Odd timing.

The current scare on vegetables is hugely overblown. And that's from a microbiologist who started poking around with bacteria in 1978, has a PhD specifically in gut microbiology and is still playing with those bacteria, and now with some real botty-exploders too.

The Daily Terror has wheeled out the Government's favourite fear-monger, Saucy HP himself, to demand that all German produce is removed from supermarket shelves. I don't know how this guy keeps popping up. Local legend is that he is stored in formalin between scares.

They have a map showing the spread of the infection. Except it shows no such thing. As far as I can tell, everyone who caught this infection caught it in Germany. There has, as yet, been no transmission between individuals outside Germany and no sign of anyone catching anything from any German exported produce.

Of course, given the crap state of our hospitals where easily-controlled infections do the rounds faster than a consultant with an imminent tee-off appointment, that's just a matter of time. For now, there is no danger involved in eating salads outside specific parts of Germany. For cooked veg, there is no danger at all, anywhere.

If you want your lettuce checked for E. coli, there are food testing labs all over the place who would be glad of the business. The test would take 24 hours, it's simple and cheap. I would charge £10 a test and I don't have the turnover of the big labs. There is no need to find out which E. coli variant is present because fruit and veg shouldn't have any E. coli of any kind at all. If it does, there's shit on it and you don't want to eat it anyway. This bacterium isn't found anywhere else, its presence indicates faecal contamination.

Russia has banned all EU vegetable imports even though the problem is confined to a specific area of Germany and only applies to salads. This summer, there will be stacks of cheap fruit and veg but next summer it will be expensive. This scare will put a good few producers out of business, so dig over that lawn and be ready to fill it with vegetables next spring.

Here in the UK, we have Saucy HP telling us that vegetable consumption risks a condition that would allow you to shit through the eye of a needle. I think the EU should consider sending him the bill for this.

All in all, everyone gullible (ie most people) will be loading their freezer with fish fingers and burgers and saying sod the vegetables.

You would think, then, that this week is a very, very bad time to promote the consumption of vegetables among children. Then again, we are dealing with pressure groups composed of people who are barely self-aware, never mind aware of their surroundings.

It's true that a heavy, stodgy diet will slow you down. That's not news, we've known about that for decades in science and for centuries in Granny Lore. There are many things your granny 'just knew' that are actually very true indeed. It didn't come from official science but from generations of experience. Unfortunately, scientists dismiss everything Granny says because she didn't publish a peer-reviewed paper on the subject.

In fact, all of you already know this. Who feels like exercise after a huge Christmas dinner? Most people feel like sleeping afterwards and the sonorous tones of the Queen's Speech are a great help in achieving this. Better yet, the 'Sound of Music'. I have never seen the end of that film. Usually I pass out while trying to parse the grammatical insanity of that 'Doh, a deer' song.

True, eating lightly before an exam is the best idea. Enough to avoid feeling hungry but not enough to make you want to nod off during three hours of immobility in a silent room.

It doesn't have to be vegetables. Eating lightly means just that - the opposite of a hefty three course meal. A small pork pie would do the job. Or a doughnut. Both are cooked and both are subject to food-testing so the risk of rumbly in your tumbly halfway through an exam question on the projectile capacity of the human rectum is very low.

It's low with fruit and vegetables too. Despite what Saucy HP wants you to believe, despite the terror in the eyes of the greengrocer as he gets you to sign a waiver when you buy tomatoes, the risk is very, very low indeed. Lower than the risk of catching rabies by brushing past a smoker. Although I have met people who believe that one, but then I have met people who will believe anything that suits their personal paranoia. They're fun.

Fruit and vegetables are good things to eat. That's why I grow them. Yet now is not the time I would choose to promote such things or even draw attention to them. It's a bit like deciding to sell a seafront property in Japan - now is not a good time.

The infection is very nasty. I admit to a chuckle at the advice 'if you're crapping blood you should consider seeing a doctor' because there can't be anyone on the planet incapable of thinking that for themselves. Haemolytic uraemic syndrome is a pretty name. It means you've moved beyond crapping blood and are now pissing it too. If you haven't had the sense to seek medical advice by that stage then, frankly, the average value of human intellect will be improved by your demise.

It's serious. It's nasty. It can kill. So can yellow fever but we don't have that in the UK either. Nor do we have leprosy or much in the way of Dengue fever or elephantiasis. I don't think we have rabies here but looking at the frothing mouths and evident insanity of the likes of Shenker and Arnott and their drones, I can't be certain.

If a greengrocer or farmer comes down with this, I'd be wary. I'd only buy veg that needs to be, or can be, cooked. Fruit can be made into fruit crumble (real butter in that crumble, no plasticine). All variants of E. coli are killed by pasteurisation and you only need to get above 73C for fifteen seconds to exceed that. Roasting, they have no chance.

So far the only victims are those who have eaten salads in certain parts of Germany. My brother visits Germany often for work, but I'm not worried. He has never knowingly eaten a salad and there's nothing to suggest it's in the beer so he'll be fine. I wouldn't worry about travel to Germany either. Just don't eat salads while there.

This outbreak, if it really is in salads, should be contained by now. It's not difficult. There might be cases popping up after containment depending on how long it takes the infection to fire up, but in a sensible world (oh dear) it should already have been sorted. So far there has been no sign of person-to-person transmission but with this bacterium, it can happen. Quick and easy measures can prevent it. If the EU didn't move like a sedated sloth in response to emergencies this would have been a page 5 news story.

Even so, this is not the week I would have chosen to promote vegetable consumption. I'd have waited a while.


JuliaM said...

I think someone on Twitter had the right of it: 'Who the hell eats a salad in Germany anyway?'

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

The whipping up of hysteria over this is ludicrous. Just as bad as the furore over swine flu. Why does the MSM do this? What do they hope to gain? They just make themselves look stupid and then think we don't notice. Then several months later, they're at again, with another scare story.

Anonymous said...

Much better than Jamie Oliver. Pure. Raw broccoli, eat the train set trees!

Anonymous said...

I think the King has died and Chicken Little somehow found himself first in line to the throne.

It's the only explanation for the constant fearmongering.

Katabasis said...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they should do a foot and mouth style cull in Germany. There should be a few people left from 1945 that would help them to organise it.

Kevin B said...

Nuke the cukes!

Anonymous said...

I don't do the Gov's "5 a day" so I don't indulge in salad covered in excretia, and certainly wouldn't be flying to Germany to do so.

So am I at risk?

JuliaM said...

I bought some cherries today in Morrisons, and a lady standing next to me asked her husband if he thought they'd be safe to eat.

I had to bite my lip in case I asked her 'Just how high do you think these cherry growers can s**t, love?'.

They were US cherries anyway!

petem130 said...

Great article. I'm never convinced by any information provided by government experts. Invariably it proves to be alarmist, wrong and silly given a few weeks for reason to come to the fore.

In Scotland we sometimes get Prof Hugh Pennington come on as a talking head. He's great. Says it like it is.

One of my friends was present at a seminar on food hygiene he led. He got their attention at the start by stating that you can eat shit if you cook it long enough. Not sure anyone test that far less tasted it!!!

great post. Enjoyable and fun to read.

Joe Public said...

The market for Big Macs & Whoppers has fallen through the floor too.

seething psycho sloth (eurosceptic) said...

may i say that i take great exception to being:

1) stereotyped as drugged-up or dozy


2) compared to the european union

unlike the eu, we sloths do not promote the use of pharmaceuticals or any other form of drug, as we are quite comfortable with our self-image and have no urgent need to alter reality in an attempt to delude ourselves into believing that we are happy.

you also appear to require education regarding sloth physiology - sloths are not excessively somnolent creatures, in fact, according to exhaustive studies by a group of german scientists, we sleep for less than 10 hours a day. in my opinion, if the eu slept a bit more and produced less crap directives, the world would be a far better place in which to snooze. in any case, we do not wake-up for less than a branch-worth of cecropia leaves.

finally, it's upsetting to be compared to the eu, not just for me, but for all lazy gits who spend the most-part of their lives hung upside-down in trees doing fuck-all in particular. sloths have never done any harm to anyone, let alone rip-off the tax-payer, bankrupt whole member-nations, and keep a gang of unholy toe-rag politicians and bureaucrats in a luxurious lifestyle well beyond their personal means. sloths do not live for free-handouts or expect free-lunches at the public expense - we mind our own business, and wish that you would too.

Anonymous said...

Maybe UKBA will be instructed to search people returning from Europe for any signs of vegetables hidden deep inside their suitcases - and should such vegetables be found, UKBA will be obliged to confiscate these peoples' automobiles and issue a huge fine on top of it, for their crime. After all, it would only be fair, in light of the tobacco for personal use confiscation going on.

Anonymous said...

What do you make of this LI?

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

According to the Telegraph, it has now been found to be contaminated bean sprouts. So we can all go back to our cukes.

the vicar of didley said...


well, bang goes the std theory

fluctuating futures market said...

dump beansprouts, go long on cukes - buy, buy, buy

marrow boy said...


oh fuck off del, that's not funny. i nearly choked on my soddin' spring-roll

Anonymous said...

...Maybe UKBA will be instructed to search people returning from Europe for any signs of vegetables hidden deep inside their suitcases...

The airport scene from 'Spinal Tap' springs to mind.

Leg-iron said...

JuliaM - apparently the salad-eaters are those who have embraced the prescribed 'health' agenda.

Leg-iron said...

Anon 22:30 - if the head of a medical laboratory thinks E. coli can form spores, German healthcare is in big, big trouble.

wiggins said...

Total horse sh*t. For your edification:

Leg-iron said...

wiggins - An impressively hysterical article. Antibiotics in animal feeds can lead to resistance but not to virulence. However, the use of antibiotics in animal feeds has been in rapid decline for years due to legislation and consumer pressure. Some supermarkets now won't buy meat from antibiotic-fed animals.

This particular bacterium certainly came from some kind of animal because that's the only place it could come from. One of the suspect animals is human, and overuse of antibiotics in hospitals has done far more to boost resistance than the farms ever did. MRSA and a host of other nasties originated in hospitals.

Currently it appears that tests on the beansprouts have been negative, but that proves little. Testing the current batches does not prove that the previous batches were okay.

The farm has no animals and is organic, so if they had animals they wouldn't be feeding antibiotics at all. Also, they use no animal waste as fertiliser. So if this farm is the source, it has nothing to do with antibiotics in animal feeds.

It seems that one of the farm workers had this bug. Well, now, here's your animal suspect. Is the worker off work now, and the problem has vanished? Were they working when the potentially contaminated batches went out?

It's still possible that the beansprouts were contaminated in transit, and it's still possible that it was nothing to do with beansprouts at all. They could be a false trail. All I can say is that it didn't originate in anything vegetable, it had to come from something with a gut. There's no definite information yet as to what, or who, or where or when.

Articles pinning it on the author's pet hate just make me laugh.

Anonymous said...


I studied microbiology at Uni, a long while back ... and I didn't pass, so unlike most sheeple I'm not exactly panicking. I wanted to ask because my memory is real bad, but if I remember correctly we all have our good friend Esh C in our gut ordinarily (normal flora)?

If my memory isn't as hazy as I thought, someone should publicise that fact far and wide because I look forard to the stampede to Tescos if only to watch people running to the cleaning section and drinking bleach straight off the shelves.

conservative comatose koala (euro-lover) said...


in any case, we do not wake-up for less than a branch-worth of cecropia leaves. true...i don't come-to for less than 10 branches of eucalyptus leaves...mmm...

hey bitch, that was my line!

pertinacious platformer said...

21:57 comes the talbot gets to be the cute cuddly koala and i get stuck with the fuckin' stupid sloth? typical, what's the point of being the top dog when you always end-up getting the bottom dollar? t'rasss

a dedicated follower of pantyhose said...


hey least you did right by new orleans, haiti and japan.

professor gladys sweetpea (commited catwalker) said...


...although your mates on 'fashion relief' do seem to be in the habit of getting pissed-up and going arse-over-tit. if you like, i can attend the next show and, out of my own pocket, elicit random urine samples from potentially plastered participants in order to perform ringside tests for stimulants.

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