Although fledgling, Dubai’s organic farming is growing, and Yael Mejia with Dubai’s Baker and Spice is doing her part to help that along. Though critics question the wisdom of using desalinated water for farming, the water-strapped Emirates don’t really have a choice.
But it is not certain whether the samples of arugula from 64 different stores throughout Dubai and Sharjah were imported or grown locally. But officials will need to find out soon, because one researcher has discovered that every single leaf is covered in E.coli.
Dr. Dennis Russell, a researcher at the American University of Sharjah, analyzed arugula samples and found that every gram contained millions of faecal coliform cells and hundreds of thousands of E. Coli bacteria.
Germany only permits 100 E. Coli per gram, Switzerland, 10 per gram, and Brazil only allows 100 viable fecal coliform cells per gram. And yet, Dr. Russell told The National that 64 stores are carrying greens that contain more bacteria than a lavatory.
Both the Food Control Department of Dubai Municipality and the Sharjah Municipality failed to comment, while Mohammed al Reyaysa from Abu Dhabi’s Food Control Authority claims that random tests conducted show that their food quality lies within international standards.
Dr. Russell’s findings were published in the Egyptian Academic Journal of Biological Sciences. He hypothesizes that all of the arugula came from the same batch, and that the farmers were using liquefied raw faeces for fertilizer instead of compost soil. Even washing the leaves with diluted chlorine did not rid the samples of the bacteria.
Though not always fatal when consumed, E.Coli can be. Other health concerns associated with the bacteria include diarrhoea, dehydration, respiratory problems, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.
:: The National
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