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E. Coli: From Farm to Table

How a deadly bacteria gets into your salad.

E. coli, the life-threatening bacteria that lives in the human gut, has been in headlines almost daily thanks to Chipotle Mexican Grill. Since last year, the chain has been blamed for spreading an especially potent strain (or strains) of E. coli through its restaurants in a dozen states nationwide. It's a troubling scenario for diners, investors, and chain restaurants across the country. The worst part is that the culprit, the actual foodstuff, responsible for the spread of the bacteria at Chipotle, has not been found. It's also possible that there are multiple sources — no one knows. At some point, someone suggested tomatoes might be the source. But how does E. coli, which is generally thought to pose a threat in seafood and meat, end up in produce?

Recently, CNN took a deep dive into the industrial farming industry, pinpointing salad greens as a particularly notable source for E. coli infections — over half of all E. coli outbreaks can be traced back to produce. But why? Because of the use of manure (which is an organic fertilizer), and contaminated ground water, which may be used — especially in a drought — to water thirsty leafy greens. In short, shit happens. Watch the investigation unfold from farm to table, and learn why there's only so much the FDA and USDA can do to protect American diners.

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