New and troubling questions are raised in a story today by the Gannett News Service about the home grown problems that threaten food safety in the United States.   The story by Amanda Gardner quotes Marler Clark partner Bruce Clark about the lack of a "kill step" when it comes to the increasingly tainted fruits and vegetables.

The GNS story reports that:

Increasingly today, produce is grown in fields close to cattle and, sometimes, wild animals. The E. coli spinach contamination could have come from cattle or boar feces, or from contaminated irrigation systems, federal officials concluded.

The widening of E. coli cases from protein products to fresh fruits and vegetables is related to "the fact that U.S. agricultural commodities tend to be grown in areas that have cattle, which are reservoirs for bacteria," explained Bruce Clark, a partner in the Seattle law firm of Marler Clark, which represents victims of food poisoning. "As soon as you have manure on the ground, and you have birds and wild animals and water, you have all these vectors for transferring bacteria to fresh fruits and vegetables."

And most of the time, Clark added, produce is not subjected to the "kill step" (usually cooking), which would eliminate the pathogens. In fact, washing may not even help because of the ability of the organisms to cling to food surfaces.

Check out the whole story here.