We’re all guilty of it. We pick out our vegetables from the grocery store, bring them home, and that extra step of washing the leafy greens always seems to escape our minds before combining all the ingredients in the final dish. You’ve always been told to wash your fruit and vegetables, but have you ever wondered why…?
Yes, there might be some residue from pesticide use that needs to be washed off, but another important reason is because of a parasite that can be present on the surface of your vegetables called Rat Lungworm.
Rats acquire these parasites from their filthy living conditions, and the worm larvae from these parasites begin to develop in the lungs of these rats. Eventually, these parasites reside in the rats’ pulmonary arteries and travel into the rodent feces, where they remain alive.
Slug and snails then feed upon the rodents’ feces, and the parasite continues to mature inside. These worms can live in the mucus of the mollusks, which then can be passed along to fruits and vegetables, especially romaine lettuce!
If these snails, slugs, or larvae are ingested, Rat Lungworm Disease can develop and can cause severe central nervous system complications and potentially death.
Moist environments, including rainforests, lakes, and ponds, will favour the parasite hosts’ growth. Due to modern consumption methods and the increase in food imports, these parasites are becoming more prominent in other regions worldwide.
Consumption of raw foods such as land crabs, freshwater shrimp, lizards, and other planarians can also leave consumers susceptible to disease as these animals can act as intermediate hosts.
To reduce the risk of contracting this disease, it is essential to maintain proper sanitation methods when eating uncooked foods and other produce items. Ensuring produce is rinsed (NOT soaked) before eating is crucial. Soaking produce in water will increase the chances of the parasite spreading to other fruits and vegetables in the same water.
Placing the produce under running water and thoroughly washing will give you the best chance of preventing disease, and if you ever notice a slug in any of your produce, save yourself the trouble and discard the item immediately!
Please tune in to our next blog for a product that is sure to help prevent any slugs or snails from getting into your garden and soiling your hard-grown produce.