Thursday, May 17, 2007
A face behind the spinach scare
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Over the past several months, we have been working on a one-hour special about food safety. I have to say, it has been one of the most eye-opening stories on which I have worked. As a general rule, when we go to the grocery story, we have a simple expectation. We expect what we purchase will be safe to eat, especially when it comes to healthy foods like spinach. As most everyone knows, that is not always the case. Over the last decade, there have been 22 major outbreaks of E.coli 0157:h7 in produce, and the most recent one in spinach last October killed at least three people and made more than 200 very sick.

If you're like most people, these numbers may not mean a whole lot to you. As a journalist, though, I thought it was important to introduce you to just one of the faces behind those numbers. Ashley Armstrong is from Indiana. Just 2 years old, she was cute, spunky and in constant motion. Always running around the house, sometimes giggling at the top of her lungs, she reminded me of my own daughter. On a fall day, she, her adorable sister and two parents sat down to a healthy dinner, including a spinach salad. Within a week, three members of the family became sick. Soon, it became clear that Ashley had been hit the hardest. For a long time, her parents thought the illness would just pass. It didn't and Ashley was soon diagnosed with kidney failure and brain swelling. Doctors were trying everything possible to save their life. It took a while, but they figured out that she had been infected with E.coli 0157:h7 and its deadly toxin was systematically shutting down her body. I remember her father looking at me misty-eyed and saying, "Fathers are supposed to protect their daughters... in this case, there was nothing I could do." The culprit was a green, leafy piece of spinach.

I took Ashley's story with me when I was given unfettered access to the chiefs at the FDA. They sat down with me and told me that, for the most part, food is safe in this country. Fair enough, but what about Ashley? Was the food any safer this year as compared to last? They really couldn't say for sure and beyond that, they told me something even more alarming: They weren't even sure exactly how to make the produce any safer. One FDA chief just called it bad luck.

What do you think? Do you believe it is just bad luck and that we should accept a few deaths and illnesses every year from our food? Or, do we as a society say this is important-- I don't ever want to worry about the safety of my food and we should do whatever it takes to see to that?

For the rest of Ashley's story and an exclusive look at food safety from farm to fork, watch "Danger: Poisoned Food" this Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.
Hi Caleb~
How sad for Ashley and her family. I am sure her parents thought they were feeding her good nutritious food.
It is scary to think what toxins lurk in our "healthy" food from the market. The worst is flesh. Food animals are fed many pounds of feed to get one pound of meat. Just think how concentrated the toxins are in the meat we buy!
Scary! I try to stick to organic produce and as little meat as possible.
I remember when the spinach scare came on CNN. I actually was eating a raw spinach salad and reading the bulletin. I was already half through with the salad so I just said,"oh,well!" and finished it. I imagined all kinds of bad things for a few days!
Thanks for putting together this program. I am anxious to find out where the poison is lurking in my food!
I contracted Giardia (intestinal parasite) after eating a raw salad at a fast food place. It wasn't diagnosed right away, so I was severely ill for months and lost a dangerous amount of weight (down to about 80 lb) before it was finally diagnosed and treated. Bless you for covering the subject of food poisoning (bacteria, parasites, etc).
This story makes me once again wonder how much use is FDA really. Or should I rather say, how much problem FDA really is. They call this bad luck, they claim not to know what to do. Everyone who ever studied FDA's approaches knows why FDA doesn't want to do anything. And it's horrible when that costs a little girls her life.

- Christian Goodman
On the news today you keep stating that the cattle/beef industry has taken control of the E. coli problem, when in fact the deadly strain that you speak of is as a direct result of meat industry processes. The cattle are fed a diet of corn that they are unadapted to process. As such, the cows can become sick with bloat and die, were it not for the heavy and constant dosing of antibiotics. This constant usage of antibiotics is what has created the evolved form of deadly E. coli. So it is untruthful to say that the beef industry has "taken control" of the E. coli problem.
15 years ago I had a terrible intestinal bacteria. After 3 months of suffering a lower GI was done. Intestine walls were "like styrafome" said Doc. What started it, we all surmised was the FRUIT and VEG diet I was on. Doc told me to look around the fields where they grow Strawberries, Celery, Lettuce and see if you can spot a Porta Potty. I found none. Doc asked me if I believed that the "pickers" would walk a half mile to urinate or would they just "pee in the trough?" Made sense to me. I truly believe that because berries, spinach, lettuce, celery ALL grow in a relatively short time and because the fields are FULL of pickers who will urinate and deficate in the troughs, the bacteria is absorbed immediately into the produce when they water at night. Human diseases are transmitted INSIDE the produce and not necessarily OUTSIDE. I have since named Strawberried the "pee pee fruit" and the ONLY way I will eat them is if they are cooked.
My Doctor has since retired due to a stroke, but I know his evaluation was RIGHT ON the money, and when I watch CNN scan the fields of produce there is not ONE Porta Potty anywhere. Where do these field workers go to the bathroom????
Since the pickers are normally of the lowest of low on the charts for living conditions, their personal hygiene as well as their personal health issues are, no doubt, substandard.
Maybe we could solve this entire issue if they were ALL required to wear Depends while cultivating and picking our produce!!!
My treatment for the Dysentary was a strong Antibiotic and Beer and Yogurt for 7 days. It worked.
Please consider this approach and although it will scare the HELL out of the public, it is a fact.
There are NO Toilets in the fields of produce anywhere.
Thank you for reading.

Kathie Carmer
Well I can't speak for the other bacteria, but I have a guess as to where the E. coli is coming from. We all know what part of the body it comes out of. Well, live in farm country. I understand fertilizer is necessary to the process, but have you ever seen how THICK some of these farms lay it on? Some are worse than others, but I live around the chicken/egg factory (yes, factory, I will not do it the justice of calling it a farm), which I'm pretty sure is where most of the manure they're spreading comes from. And there's a lot of it. Yeah, you have to do something to get rid of it, I guess, but layering it as deep as some of them do just seems excessive.
Hey this is shy peebles Northport, Alabama.I'm writing to say that is vry sad for ashley to go through that pain. I know it must be hard for her parents to accept that and wityh all my love I hope ashley fells better for the best & for her parents.
I believe I heard Dr. Gupta say this morning on CNN that about 100 organisms were needed (h7:0157) but I believe that 10 is the number of organisms claimed by experts to be the number required to induce disease.

"Poisoned Food?" What a title for a story, as though farmers were dumping rat poison on fields to kill their customers. I also heard Dr. Gupta say that there was "no incentive" for farmers to make changes in their practices.

What an absurd statement, voiced by an alleged "expert" who obviously knows little about farming. Perhaps he thinks it is a simple matter of farmers obtaining a higher level of liability insurance.

The reality is that some farmers, on the mere suspicion that their crops might contain injurious organisms are GOING OUT OF BUSINESS because their product went unharvested and untouched while FDA staff and others claimed that this salad plant or that other plant cause the outbreak.
Watched the show about e coli, and have a question: the people who work harvesting the veges, walking or working on the moving equipment...if they have to potty where do they go? The fields are huge...are there toilets on the machines? Anyone can suddenly have an 'attack', and it is not uncommon in such outdoor work situations to just drop the pants, and go. Also, as to carriers of the bacteria, no mention was made of birds, feeding on cow droppings and then landing in vege fields. I eat bagged veges daily, raw, as a vegetarian, and I try not to worry about this, but....(Joe McFatter, Austin, Texas).
I watched the Poisoned Foods story. I heard that the experts are blaming cattle manure for the Spinach EColi outbreak. I have lived in an Indian village among cows where manure cakes are used by people all over the place and there is obviously no separation between animals and food crops. I am not indicating that everything is safe out there. But wouldn't people be falling ill all over the place if that were the cause.
This was an email sent to me today concerning E-coli from spinach causing sickness or even death. It came as a result, I am quite sure, of the AOL news coverage and the hour-long CNN documentary which has been running all weekend about the spinach scare in 2006, farming practices, the problems of the FDA, the wrongly theorized cause, the supposed remedies, and lawsuits and so on.

It also highlighted the death of an elderly woman and the near-death of a little girl. I am always a bit suspicious and fearful of news media, like politicians, who spend too much time telling me what to be afraid of and who to blame." This is especially true when most of the accompanying ads seem to be from the pharmaceutical industry.

I am sharing with you my thoughts and response to questions. The host and interviewer of the piece was Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's medical correspondent. Here is the email letter:

"Dear Dr. Young

"I was just wondering if the "germ" finds a friendly environment (over acidic), can it multiply and create more waste and therefore there is a possibility of exposure that leaves an acidic body in jeopardy.

"Obviously E-coli has been used for ages in classrooms (because it doesn't take much to provide it with the necessary ingredients for quick replication for observation) without hurting anyone, but if for some reason, some crazy kid decided to lick his slide and the internal terrain was compromised already, would the e-coli (or any other bacteria) then be able to replicate internally and produce enough waste to tip the balance (though I would have thought it would take ages)? Or is that really out of the question? Clearly the focus is bas-ackwards (as they say) in western etiology.

"When a group of kids who have been mistakenly identified as being "struck" by E-coli from a bad meat source, is it simply that the "'bad" (is there any good? : ) meat has become so acidic that it is like drinking industrial solvents? Would chemical tests of the suspect sources reveal the problem? Biological interpretations appear to be just wrong.

"Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these!"



Dear Sally:

Thank you for your email questions.

I have stated in my writings that germs (the "germing" process) cannot cause disease but "germs" themselves do produce digestive (enzymes) or metabolic waste products called exotoxins and mycotoxins or simply acids that contribute to disease states.

I have further stated that there is only one cause of sickness, dis-ease and death and that is the over acidification of the tissues (latent tissue acidosis) and then blood (compensated acidosis and then decompensated acidosis) due to an inverted way of living, eating and thinking.

Your question of whether or not bacteria can cause disease is an important question that has been debated for over 100 years. As you know, the French scientist, Antione BeChamp, an adversary of Louis Pasteur, said, "the germ is nothing; the terrain is everything."

Maintaining the healthy alkaline environment or terrain of the human body is critical for good health and for the prevention of any disease. The human body is alkaline by design and acidic by function. That is, the body is designed to run on primarily alkaline fuel because all bodily functions create acids which must be largely neutralized to protect the body itself from the acidic creation of disease and dis-ease.

The body maintains this alkaline pH design at 7.365 by eliminating gastrointestinal and metabolic acids through urination, perspiration, defecation and respiration. When we eat anything, including highly alkaline spinach, there will be residues of acids that can be easily buffered from the sodium bicarbonate produced and released in the stomach.

So what comes first the bacteria or the acid? What we have here is the chicken or the egg scenario. I would suggest to you that everything is the prey of life and nothing is the prey of death. What can be nourished can be consumed and everything is simply trying to live.

Since our bodies run on energy in the form of electrons, the by-products of energy consumption is always acid. When acids from the process of metabolism are not properly eliminated, they can spoil our cells that make up our tissues that then gives rise to biological transformations known as bacteria.

So the answer to the question, "what comes first the bacteria or the acid?" the answer is clearly the ACID. Acid is the bi-product of energy being used or consumed. Bacteria is then a by-product of energy being consumed like the smoke from a fired gun, of spoiling or degenerating matter not the cause of the spoiling or degenerating matter. ACID is the only cause for spoiling of degenerating matter or tissue!

In today's headline on AOL News it said, "Two More Deaths Possibly Linked to Tainted Spinach." A key word in this headline is "possibly" which infers that scientific investigators just don't know! And I believe that they know that they don't know. But they are going to try and calm your fears--and so they are going to come up with some sort of explanation that they can sell to the public.

But I am convinced that tainted or fermenting spinach which would contain very little amounts of oxalic acid and not enough to make one sick and it would ordinarily be neutralized by the sodium bicarbonate secreted in the mouth, stomach and intestines. Why? Because if spinach is that tainted or fermenting it would have a terrible smell, a terrible taste, and unlikely that anyone in their right mind would eat it.

States of ultimate sickness, disease and then death comes as a process of poor lifestyle and dietary choice that then lead to a state of over acidity. The oxalic acid from a few leaves of Spinach could not possibly shut down the kidneys.

Now consider this: Most people get their spinach from sealed plastic bags designed to keep the spinach fresh for awhile. My bet would be that of the 250 or so spinach leaves in that one bag, NO SINGLE LEAF came from even the same plant. By the time the leaves are separated from the plant, washed and rewashed, tumbled and tossed, run over the multiple conveyer belts, those leaves came from all over the farm field, and sometimes from different truck loads and possibly even different fields--all in the same bag at your grocery store.

Have you ever seen the size of those commercial spinach fields? They look like a square mile or bigger. And there is field after field after field. Perhaps we are sophisticated enough to track a bag from the consumer, back to the store, back to the packager, and back to the commercial farmer, and maybe even back to one or two farm fields. But the chance that the FDA or any governmental agencies is sophisticated enough to isolate e-coli down to a few plants or area of a field is beyond my comprehension and certainly my confidence in the U.S. government.

In that enormous field, whatever they found, it is my guess that they would have found approximately the same thing anywhere in the field. And they could go next farm over and find the same results. Thousands of bacteria are everywhere as a product of evolution and a stage of life transforming.

You say the spinach field was too close to a field of cattle? Have you ever driven through California or most other states and looked at the farms? There are thousands of cattle fields and hog farms in proximity to fields of trees, plants and vegetables. There's e-coli everywhere. You have had plenty of e-coli come and go in your body. Fifteen million e-coli bacteria can sit on the head of a pin.

I also believe that a hundred thousand people ate spinach leaves from the same field, and if there was some E-coli present, thousands and thousands of people ate those leaves and did not get sick.

What I do know and what I do believe is that many people could conceivable had perhaps some miniscule amount of bacteria, as we all do, from whatever source, and yet, the blood cells, tissues, and rivers/fluids of these peoples' bodies were acidic to begin with.

This internal-external distinction is important because it helps us in the treatment of the dis-ease as we change our focus from the bacteria to the state of over-acidity pH versus the actual alkaline pH of the fluids of the body. And if someone is taken to the hospital with whatever symptoms, they are then treated with a myriad of acidic components, including antibiotics, adding fuel to a fire already started. Rather than using acidic drugs to kill some harmless bacteria, the focus should change to reestablishing the alkaline internal pH environment with alkaline buffers such as sodium bicarbonate.

But hospitals do not do that because they are operating from the same wrong-headed theory as are many governments of the world, U.S. health agencies, medical schools, research laboratories, and lastly the 1,000 pound pharmaceutical gorillas that--along with your tax dollars--fund the whole she-bang.

To suggest that those individuals died from E-coli found in the kidney is like blaming the smoke from a fired gun as the cause of death. Logically we know that smoke from a fired gun cannot kill. We can even argue that it is not the bullet that can kill. It is the person that is pulling the trigger that causes the gun to be fired that causes the release of the bullet and then the residue of smoke. E-coli is the smoke. The bullet is the acid. And the triggering factor is the individual's lifestyle and dietary choices.

Not for a moment do I believe that anyone, unless staving to death, would eat spoiled fermenting smelly and awful tasting spinach. I do not believe that people are that silly, and I am not about to believe the ridiculous claims that spinach was the possible cause of death as suggested by western germ theory scientists.

To justify their claims, these medical savants are now saying that E-coli is the possible villain in this fairy tale by suggesting that it is coming from migrant workers who are urinating and defecating in the fields around the spinach, or the nearby cattle and their excrement, or the pig farm, or the water run off that soaked an area of the field.

I can hardly contain myself from laughing out loud when organic farmers are using chicken excrement to fertilize the fields of spinach and other vegetables and fruits, and it certainly is not all "treated" fertilizer. Here at Rancho del Sol, we have used chicken excrement in and around our organic grapefruit and avocado trees for its oxygen and nitrogen components. This is what all organic farmers use. So what would be worse, human excrement or chicken excrement used to fertilize? The point is, we must focus on the cause not the effect and the cause will always be where you find the poison, or the acid, not the "germ" or the "germing process".

As for Legionnaire's disease this also is not caused by bacteria. It is caused from over indulging in acidic foods and drinks. And plenty ate the same food and didn't get sick. And there are plenty of those who were sick that had been diagnosed with Legionnaire's where no bacteria could be found. The reason? Acid makes us sick not bacteria.

This is also the case with individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. They are sick but there is no virus present! So what is the cause? It can only be from an over acidic environment. So, we need to look at the acid from our lifestyle and dietary choices.

The acid from the beverages we drink such as tea, coffee and alcohol. The toxins from meats that release nitric, uric, sulfuric, and phosphoric acids. Or the toxins from sugar like acetlyaldehyde or lactic acids. These are the true culprits or poisons that make us sick, tired and fat that lead to our eventual death.

Finally you asked the following questions:

The first was...I was just wondering that when the germ finds a friendly environment (over acidic), can it multiply and create more waste and therefore is there a possibility of exposure that leaves an acidic body in jeopardy.

The word "germ" comes from the German language which means to sprout or germinate. Allow me to digress a moment. Germs are not really nouns, even though we think of them as "things" but they are not; "germ" should be a verb--or a noun derived from a verb. I think it should be a gerund if I remember my English correctly. A word that ends in "ing." It's not a thing so much as it's an activity. It should be called "germing." Instead we say germination and germinating.

"Germs" are the germinating function of changing matter and are NOT species specific, that is, they do note mate or reproduce. The reality is that germs are not things but actions or reactions from a changing environment. The germ or germination or germing is the expression of that change in matter and should never be classified. Simply, E-coli is a stage of transforming matter and not a reproduction due to an over acidic environment.

E-coli is the change of matter or tissue in a changed environment that is pH sensitive. It is no different than taking water, a liquid and seeing the change that takes place when we change the temperature to zero degrees Celsius and the water changes to ice, a solid. It is still water but in a different form. And so it is with E-coli. E-coli is a form of matter that is born out of the cell when the pH of the environment becomes acidic.

The second question was...obviously E-coli has been used for ages in class rooms (because it doesn't take much to provide it with the necessary ingredients for quick replication for observation) without hurting anyone, but if for some reason some crazy kid decided to lick his slide and the internal terrain was compromised already, would the e-coli (or any other bacteria) then be able to replicate internally and produce enough waste to tip the balance (though I would have thought it would take ages)? Or is that really out of the question? Clearly the focus is bas-ackwards (as they say) in western etiology?

Once again germs cannot cause disease even if the child licks the slide. This experiment was done many years ago when Claude Bernard a French physiologist drank a glass of cholera bacteria with little affect other than some nausea. In fact, to prove my point I am willing to eat E-coli on fresh spinach leaves for CNN if they are willing and ready for the TRUTH!

Another question was....when a group of kids who have been mistakenly identified as being "struck" by E-coli from a bad meat source, is it simply that the "bad" meat has become so acidic that it is like drinking industrial solvents?

Industrial solvents differ greatly, but yes, depending upon some variables, eating any meat is highly acidic and would be like drinking industrial solvent, assuming their quantities and other factors were similar.

Another question was....would chemical tests of the suspect sources reveal the problem?

Yes, if tested you would find an increase of specific acids in the suspected sources.

Question....are biological interpretations....just wrong?

You are right in your suspicions. Biological interpretation is wrong because scientists are focused on the matter rather than focused on the environment around the matter. It comes back to the fish bowl metaphor. When the fish is sick, do you treat the fish or change the water? Western medical science is focused on the fish, treats the fish and then neglects to clean up the environment not realizing that the fish is only as healthy as the environment it is swimming in. This is true with the fluids of our body. If we find E-coli in the tissues, this is a transformation of the tissues due to the acidic fluids found in and around that tissue. There is no infection, only an outfection of matter giving birth to bacteria due to fluid acidosis.

The key to staying healthy is to eat fresh organic greens whenever possible, to build healthy blood, and to help maintain the alkaline pH design of our body. That includes eating lots of fresh organic spinach! Stay away from the acidic foods, liquids, supplements, and treatments. And especially stay away from those faulty or "acidic" theories of western scientific thought that are based upon a false belief that "germs" cause disease -- it could kill you.

This fairy tale of E-coli causing sickness and death is just over the top, it smells of big money, and I see lots of dubious irradiation cost and solutions just down the road.

Kindest Regards,

Robert O. Young Ph.D.
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