BS: Less disinfectant, more Rioja

Tal Abbary, a freelance writer writes in the quickly diminishing N.Y. Times that she recently moved back to South Florida after seven years in Spain, where supermarket shelves are curiously empty of antibacterial products and superbug threats have not yet become the stuff of media commentary.

sandy.gab.jun.13Spaniards (or rather, their maids) can scour a home clean like no one else, but bleach is the product of choice, and in recent years, the public has focused its measured fears on high unemployment rates, home evictions or government corruption. Kitchen counters are generally considered innocuous.

A common cultural motto is the psychologically cool “no pasa nada” (roughly — no big deal), meant to take the wind out of the sails of just about any of life’s problems. This is a hard-won ethos in a country that has endured, over mere decades, a bloody civil war followed by dictatorship, transition to democracy, meteoric economic growth, rising immigration and the current financial slump.

This is food safety idiocy.

While culturally correct in the right social circles that also are anti-vaxx, anti-GMO, and can afford to life in New York City, the data suggest otherwise.

My mother was four-years-old when she suffered a bout of undulate fever.

Gramps got rid of the cows the next day.

Even now, with whole genome sequencing and other molecular tools, we humans fail at the most basic microbiological tests: the hygiene hypothesis leaves a lot of bodies.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time