The big food story in Europe over the past week has been the terrifying spread of a pathogen that's killing people in Germany and sickening hundreds, one found mostly on cucumbers. The always amazing Der Spiegel just published an account of the fiasco, from the first afflicted patients that perplexed doctors to whom they think is the current culprit: slugs.
The most fascinating piece of the article, however, is the question that immediately came to the mind of Europeans: were defecating migrant workers to blame for the outbreak?
“[Spain] in particular, has long had a bad reputation,” in the European imagination for its produce, wrote Der Spiegel. “Moroccan guest workers work long hours in greenhouses for starvation
wages–and under questionable hygienic conditions. Weren't the Spanish
suppliers the obvious culprits in the outbreak?”
But, as it turned out, it was more urban legend than fact, and the Spanish government is now outraged at this misconception, reported in the American press. It reminds me of the Know Nothing blaming shitting Mexican workers anytime there's an outbreak of E. coli in this country, an urban legend debunked again and again.
Anyhoo, read the Der Spiegel piece for some great investigative food reporting–and our thoughts and prayers to the victims.