Last fall after the second E. Coli on lettuce breakout, I wrote to the editor at the NYTimes with whom I work, suggesting that they address a specific angle of the issue: are the risks from E. Coli increasing, and are we likely to see a rise in illnesses. With the two recent cases, Taco Bell in New York and Taco John's in Iowa, and earlier ones this fall arising from sources outside the cattle industry where it had originally been dominant, it would seem yes.
Ground beef used to be the main cause of outbreaks. After the September outbreak I spoke with Richard Vergili, who teaches food safety at the CIA. What he said was, in effect, this is a Pandora's Box situation, one that's worse than what's generally being reported, especially, Vergilli said, if you buy into the fact that deer now carry the bactreria. "What makes this scary is that it's so virulent," he said, and, "It's the price we pay for wanting cheap food,...one more nail in the coffin of the small farmer."
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