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Tainted Produce in Poor Neighborhoods

[social_buttons] Not only do low-income neighborhoods have less access to fresh produce, but the rare fruit or veggie found in these areas is also more likely to be tainted.

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that the levels of bacteria, yeast, and mold found on fresh produce vary according to the income level of the neighborhood in which the produce is sold.

Researchers compared levels of microorganisms on identical products sold in six Philadelphia-area neighborhoods.

The poorer the neighborhood, the higher the number of bacteria, yeast, and mold on ready-to-eat salads and strawberries. Similarly, cucumbers sold in poor neighborhoods had higher yeast and mold counts while watermelon contained more bacteria.

The researchers suggested that the smaller size of grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods might make stores less equipped to handle produce safely. Their results highlight some of the challenges associated with increasing fresh produce availability in small retail stores that service poorer neighborhoods.

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Image courtesy misterbisson of via a Creative Commons license.

4 comments
  1. Leslie Coleman

    It appears as if fruit and vegetables themselves are being “blamed” in this situation. The fault lies with irresponsible business practices by food service operators and shop keepers that are providing produce that has not been properly stored or is out of date. Any perishable food item may become problematic when not stored properly or if it is sold at a time that is clearly past its expiration date. Please keep the focus on the fact that fruit and vegetables are healthy for everyone. Those handling and selling produce need to act responsibly and not sell spoiled food to anyone because they think they can get away with it.

  2. Carl

    I’ll admit this is something about which I’d really never thought, but it (sadly) makes sense. I’ve never been much of a fan of these sorts of groceries, now that I think of it, because I smell rotting food as soon as I enter. Yet of course I’m privileged to make a choice to go elsewhere (unless I’m out of town and don’t have a car or something), whereas the residents of many of these communities simply do not have that option. I am glad to see awareness of the issue increasing and that these unfortunate circumstances will likely become less common.

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