Listeria in garbage juice? Cue the Daltrey scream
Posted: May 28th, 2012 - 10:01am
For the past couple of years we've been vermicomposting a lot of fruits and vegetables, egg shells and dryer lint. Everything else either goes into recycling (mainly paper, cans and thick plastic) or landfill waste. Included in our landfill waste is stuff like raw poultry, beef and pork trimmings and packaging. There's a pretty good chance that my house is a decent supply of pathogens into the garbage stream - as are most of my neighbors.
Garbage trucks seem to be a hot issue in North East Ohio - so hot that a local TV station grabbed some samples of the fluids dripping from the trucks and found, wait for it, Listeria, as well as "very high levels of bacteria and low levels of Salmonella."
That's some fine detective work there, Lou.
Listeria is in lots of places, including soil, and I'd expect to see "lots of bacteria" including Salmonella in an environment where folks put their food waste, it gets mashed together, and sits around at ambient temperatures.
From Channel 3 News:
Listeria, a potentially deadly food-borne bacteria, was found in high levels of fluids dripping from garbage trucks onto neighborhood streets, a Channel 3 News investigation found.The bacteria has a mortality rate of 20 percent and, according to microbiologist Roger Pryor, of Accra Labs in Twinsburg, it poses an especially significant threat to the elderly, children and to pregnant women.
Channel 3 news collected samples of fluids spilling from garbage trucks in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Maple Heights and Brooklyn and had them tested.
In addition to listeria, Accra Labs found very high levels of bacteria and low levels of salmonella.
Cleveland City Councilman Mike Polensek says homeowners in the Collinwood neighborhood he represents often complain about the filthy stains left behind by city trash haulers.
"It becomes a major problem because you don't know what's in it," said Polensek (some pretty nasty stuff, whether in Ohio or elsewhere- ben).
Some experts say a single drop of listeria is enough to make you sick. Children playing ball in the streets can easily come in contact with the contaminated fluid.
This is a bit of a stretch for me - while gross, I'm not sure that dripping garbage juice would ever be considered a major source of Listeria. But I guess some data exists to support the statement: Don't drink garbage truck juice.