Produce Quality in the New Age

Olivia Stengem, Staff Writer

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Produce has improved in appearance and increased in size in today’s world.  But at the same time, produce has decreased in quality over the years thanks to the invention of new technologies, pesticides, artificial preservatives, and new modernized ways of growing and distributing food. The decrease in quality has caused many problems to arise in farming, processing, as well as the negative consumer’s point of view about poor quality causing diseases and the lack of real nutrition. As modern studies increase, the real quality of our food has decreased markedly.

New preservatives have given farmers and processors the ability to make their produce and animals grow bigger and better. With these chemicals, fruits and vegetables can grow to unnaturally massive sizes, and livestock are able to gain more weight and have more meat on their bones. With these “extra ingredients” comes consequences. Preservatives can prevent food from spoiling but they can also cause different problems for both the food and the consumer. Placing unnatural chemicals into the human body can cause health issues later in life depending on the preservative and how much is consumed by one person. For example, Sulfite, a preservative that prevents discoloration in food, can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea after consuming. Preservatives like these are dangerous to consume in large amounts.

Even with preservatives, it is not certain that produce will not cause diseases. Bacteria is commonly found on the farming and work site. Bugs, manure, machinery, working conditions, workers can contribute to unsanitary conditions. In the past few years, more and more diseases have entered produce with the help of a dangerous bacteria, E. coli.  This bacteria is “potentially fatal to humans” as reported recently in an outbreak that caused restaurants to be closed due to the mass amounts of people reporting food poisoning (Preville 12).

Another threat to food quality is the bacteria, Salmonella.  Salmonella is one of the most well known food poisoning causing bacteria found in produced food and the cause of human sickness and hospitalization. It causes the spoiling of eggs, meat, and dairy products. With the mass production now demanded in today’s world, it is common for food like this to go out of date, or become spoiled in unsafe conditions without notice. The spoiling of these foods can cause infections, food poisoning, and diseases when consumed.

As the years go on, there are more threats that decrease the quality of our food. Studies show that “12.3% of all foodborne illness outbreaks were associated with produce” which includes “10% were associated with improper handling after leaving the farm and 2.2% were associated with growing, packing, shipping or processing of produce” (Digest 24).

Whether it’s from the farm or processing factories, bacteria, preservatives and spoiling decrease the quality and safety of these foods. Livestock, vegetables, animal products, and fruits are all corrupted by the new “innovative” ways of producing and packaging.

 

Preville, Philip. “Is Anything Safe from E. Coli?” Saturday Night 29 July 2000: 12. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 7 May 2016.

“Illness Outbreaks.” Frozen Food Digest April-May 2010: 24. General OneFile. Web. 7 May 2016.

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