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Selecting Fresh, Uncontaminated Foods
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Dec 19, 2015
In early November, I spoke with a client in her early 50s who was going on about 6 weeks of experiencing chronic nausea and diarrhea without a clue as to why.
In reviewing her daily dietary and lifestyle choices, we realized that the onset of her symptoms coincided with regular purchases of pre-marinated chicken from her local grocery store - her sister-in-law out west had suggested this as a way to make healthy cooking easier after long work days at the hospital.
My hunch was that her local grocery store marinates older cuts of meat to mask bacterial slime and odour - a colleague in California told me about this practice many years ago.
Thankfully, within two days of doing away with pre-marinated cuts of chicken from her grocery store, the nausea and diarrhea stopped.
I'm open to the possibility that there were other variables at play, but this experience strengthened my belief that it's generally best to avoid pre-marinated raw meat. There have been a number of news stories over the years where former grocery store workers have revealed the pressure that is sometimes applied from those looking just at the bottom line to extend best-before dates on raw meats and baked goods.
Raw meat shouldn't come with slime or objectionable odour. Colour isn't always a reliable indicator of quality and freshness, as some suppliers have been known to soak their meat in solutions that impart a richer colour to their raw products.
While we're on the topic of selecting fresh, uncontaminated foods at the grocery store, I have long recommended avoiding pre-made fruit salads, especially those made with berries that are sometimes contaminated with mould and potentially with harmful mycotoxins produced by mould.
When soft fruits show a good amount of gray or white fuzzy mould, chances are good that it has penetrated into deeper layers of the fruit.
Our older son loves a good berry salad made with blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. I strongly prefer to buy these berries separately and put berry salads together after giving them a good wash. Where I run into white fuzzy mould, I typically discard berries that are in contact with the contaminated fruits, as microbiology has taught me that it doesn't take much for root threads of mould to spread through soft and moist flesh.
If I encounter a rare case of mould on a plant food with hard flesh - like a carrot - that isn't easy penetrated, I have no problems chopping just that section off and using the rest.
I don't mean to promote paranoia with these thoughts - just sharing based on my own experiences and instincts. When I was in my mid-20s, I made myself quite sick by gobbling down a rotten apple while driving home from work late in the evening. It was too dark to see the flesh of the apple, and I had a cold at the time which is why I believe I didn't smell anything unusual. Since that time, I have been pretty mindful of eating uncontaminated foods and supplements.
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