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viejogatomalo

Sep 18, 2006, 7:51 AM

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spinach

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I was well trained with bottled water while living in Salinas because the tap water was so foul. I hope they are checking that in this recent flap.
Gee whiz, they can't blame it on México!



Gayla

Sep 18, 2006, 9:13 AM

Post #2 of 23 (12317 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] spinach

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Actually, this particular strain of e. coli is going to be more likely to have been spread by humans, manure (even the so-called organic stuff) or animals, than water. Initial indications are that it came from a major packer in San Juan Batista that packs vast quantities for large buyers, such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and many large produce houses. Organic spinach was first identified as the culprit, but this morning driving in to work I heard that the FDA and CDC have expanded the investigation to "inorganic" spinach.

I work in the food service industry, and have for the last 30 years. I had my units pull spinach, spring mix and any grab and go sandwiches with spinach in them Thursday night when the first reports came in on network news. I've been watching the discussion on a chefs list to which I belong as well as from my produce vendor.

On a more positive note (or maybe not) what this has done is open a lot of consumer eyes NOB as to the convoluted food growing, processing and distribution chain. It's not as safe or as healthy as you think. In fact, some parts of it are downright scary.

And if you think the water in Salinas is bad, don't drink it in San Diego, it's even worse ;-)


viejogatomalo

Sep 18, 2006, 10:54 AM

Post #3 of 23 (12303 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] spinach

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I just heard on Fox (which may or not be reliable) that Salinas was the culprit. It is certainly a huge and developing industry and agriculture is the mainstay of that city. I do miss the acres of strawberries and artichokes. Do not miss the terrific smell of the rotting brocholi (sp) after being plowed under. Or the helicopters flying over spraying god knows what, a great deal of which blows over the city. People from out of town who came to work at the hospital were ill with respiratory problems the first three months or had acute sinus issues. Definitely not a healthy environment. But beautiful.
R


Bubba

Sep 19, 2006, 6:53 AM

Post #4 of 23 (12255 views)

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Re: [viejomalogato] spinach

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Ah, yes. The smell of rotting brussels sprouts in the field is an enduring memory of mine when I lived in Santa Cruz County, California. Brussels sprouts were a huge crop there along with artichokes. When the brussels sprouts were plowed under the smell as they rotted in the field was gross and unforgettable. What makes the adjacent Salinas Valley in Monterey County unique is that it is often beyond the coastal fog but remains cool, sunny and pleasant in the summer due to the marine influence and, as a consequence, cool weather crops love it there. Most Americans don´t realize how much produce such as lettuce comes from there. Lettuce from the Salinas Valley is also sold here in Ajijic.

This whole spinach scare strikes me as odd. Unless I have been misinformed my whole life, all one needs do is cook it to make it safe for consumption. I am glad there is oversight in the U.S. and wish there were true oversight here in Mexico but sometimes I think the lawyers have ruined the United States.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Sep 19, 2006, 7:29 AM)


Rolly


Sep 19, 2006, 7:36 AM

Post #5 of 23 (12242 views)

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Re: [Bubba] spinach

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sometimes I think the lawyers have ruined the United States. Sometimes??? Bubba, it's not like you to equivocate. Smile

Rolly Pirate


Gayla

Sep 19, 2006, 10:15 AM

Post #6 of 23 (12226 views)

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Re: [Bubba] spinach

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Bubba, you are correct. E. Coli 0157 can be killed by cooking to a temperature of 165* or higher, but more spinach is eaten raw than cooked.

How long since you lived in Santa Cruz? They may have solved the brussels sprouts problem. Brussels sprouts are now sold as entire stalks in upscale, trendy produce emporiums in the Bay Area.


sfmacaws


Sep 19, 2006, 11:00 PM

Post #7 of 23 (12193 views)

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Re: [Gayla] spinach

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Since you're here Gayla, I have a question about this whole spinach thing. I see on the news that cooking will not kill the e coli bacteria they are discussing. That doesn't make sense to me. The other thing that I saw on TV - I know, that should be the clue - is that washing or soaking would not kill it either. That the e coli was inside the cells of the spinach and that this had also happened with melons in the past. I'd like to have a better grip on this without staying up all night googling so I'm hoping you will enlighten us. I know this is your field and you have a lot of knowledge about it.

Prior to this I thought I had an understanding that e coli is everywhere and that washing or soaking in chlorine or one of the products sold for this would remove it from the exterior of the vegetable or fruit. I also thought I knew that only huge quantities of e coli could overwhelm your immune system (or having a compromised immune system) and that killing "most" of it was good enough. What's the real scoop?

ps. one or two brussel sprouts are ok but more than that "yech". I can imagine the smell they make rotting in the fields is not a good one. Those yuppies in the Bay Area will buy anything if it is trendy, doesn't change the true nature of a brussel sprout.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Gayla

Sep 20, 2006, 12:08 AM

Post #8 of 23 (12189 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] spinach

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Jonna, E. Coli is one of the most common and prevelant bacterias in existence. There are literally thousands of e. coli variants. The last I heard the bacteria in question with the spinach was e. coli 0157. This is a particularly virulent strain of e.coli. You might recall the outbreak that happened at the Jack-in-the-Box up in Washington a number of years ago. This was the first incident where e.coli 0157 hit the radar and public health consciousness. In that outbreak a young child died after eating a hamburger that, while cooked through, had not reached the optimum temperature at which the e.coli bacteria would be killed. The ops manual for JITB did specify an internal temperature that would have been sufficient to kill the bacteria but the particular restaurant had not followed the ops manual and was not cooking it's hamburgers to the correct internal temperature. They were not doing this dilberately, it was a whole raft of factors that came into play, i.e. getting slammed and trying to meet demand at busy times, trying to meet the (sometimes) insane service time targets the fast food providers demand of their stores, poor employee training, insufficient management oversight. If you think about how thin some fast food burger patties are, you can probably understand how it may appear to be cooked through - not raw, red or pink in the interior - but might not reach an internal temp high enough to kill bacteria.

What is the correct internal tempreature? Serv-Safe, which is the industry training program, teaches to keep food out of the danger zone. The danger zone is anything between 40* - 140* F. This is the temperatures at which bacteria will thrive. They need time, temperature and medium, with protein based foods being the best medium for facilitating bacterial growth. In the original JITB e.coli 0157 outbreak it turned out that the hamburgers were only achieving an internal temperature of somewhere around 127*-130*. So, why can you eat a steak cooked rare and not get sick? Because a steak is what is called a whole muscle cut of meat. A hamburger is what is called, finely divided, meaning that any bacteria that may be on the surface of the meat ends up being distributed throughout the ground beef by the cutting, mincing and/or grinding process. Because most steaks are fired at high temperatures (a broiler at Ruth Chris steak house, for example, can reach 600+* F) any bacteria on the surface of the steak is going to be destroyed. Jonna, I know you spend time in SoCal, next time you go to a burger place take a look at the menu. Somehwere on the menu there will probably be a disclaimer of sorts saying that all burgers will be cooked to well done. Some places will cooked them to medium (but almost never rare) on request, others won't. CA does have a state law requiring all finely divided meat products to be completely cooked and to reach an internal temperature of at least 145*

145* is the minimum internal temperature considered to be safe. Many safety manual will recommend cooking to 155* - 165* and I've even seen a few that recommend cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 180*. Personally, I think that's excessive and will absoultely render almost any white meat poultry inedible. So far I've only discussed meat, so how does e.coli 0157 end up in produce?

Well, there are several ways that can happen. Poor personal hygiene by a food handler, poor handling during the growing and harvesting process, which appears to be the issue with this spinach thing; or cross contamination. After the JITB incident the common thinking was that it was confined to meat, but an outbreak in Colorado was eventually traced back to unpastuerized apple juice sold by Odwalla. A thorough investigation of the packing plant revealed none of the bacteria and there was a lot of head scratching going on about where it had come from. It turned out that Odwalla used all the apples from it's orchards including those that had already dropped off the trees and were laying on the ground. The source of this particular contamination turned out to be the ground apples because they had been contaminated by the droppings left behind by transient animals passing through the orchard. At the time of this incident Odwalla was the darling of the natural food industry and their unpastuerized apple juice their star product. The e.coli outbreak just about put them out of business; today they no longer process or sell unpastuerized apple juice. The pastuerization process will kill just about any bacteria. Shortly after the Odwalla outbreak another one followed at a Sizzler in central Oregon. This was traced to canteloupe served in the salad bar. The canteloupe had not been washed before being cut. The e.coli 0157 bacteria was on the rind of the melon and was introduced to the flesh by the simple process of slicing through the rind. As the knife went through the rind it picked up the bacteria and redistributed it onto whatever flesh it touched. The contaminated rind would also have contaminated the cutting board used. This Sizzler was not as lucky as Odwalla and could not recover after the incident and closed. Simply rinsing the melons off under running water would have reduced the risk substantially as much of the bacteria would have been rinsed down the drain. Jack-in-the-Box, it should be noted, responded to their outbreak very aggressively. They developed an extremely rigid HACCP program that is really the industry gold standard and took a "take no prisoners" approach to implementation. They got a lot of flak from the other fast food companies, but most of them have since followed suit.

I saw a report this evening that indicates the actual source of the current spinach outbreak may not ever be known. Each e.coli bacteria has it's own specific DNA pattern which is how the CDC was able to link all these illnesses to the spinach and the first packer. I think what they are saying is that they probably will never find out what caused the problem at ground zero. Our bodies usually co-exist with a rather large number of e.coli, in fact some of them are very helpful to the digestive process. E.coli 0157 is not one of the friendly bacteria. When the bacterial balance in the body is upset is when you will usually see, and feel, a reaction. Those most at risk are the very young, the elderly, those with illnesses and, of course, those with imparied immune systems. These groups do not have the same defenses a normal, healthy body does. Now, I am not suggesting that everyone go out and throw caution to the wind and ignore the warning and eat a bunch of spinach. It is my understanding that cooking the spinach to a temperature of around 165* should kill any bacteria that might be there. I'm not sure it's really worth the risk. I had not heard that this particular strain might be resistant to heat. Typically e.coli can be destroyed by heating.

Freezing will kill approximately 70-80% of harmful bacteria. Heating/cooking food to an internal temperature of 155* - 165* will kill almost all harmful bacteria, but not 100% of harmful bacteria. Keeping food out of the danger zone of 40*-140* lessens the risk tremendously of food borne illness developing. Cooked spinach is not exactly high on the hi tparade of favorite foods, but raw spinach in salads and sandwiches is surprisingly popular.

Hope I've answered your question for you


sfmacaws


Sep 20, 2006, 2:14 AM

Post #9 of 23 (12187 views)

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Re: [Gayla] spinach

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Thank you Gayla! You have given me more info than a week of watching TV here in the US.

I had no idea there were different strains of e coli, that broadens my understanding a lot.

I also thought that you could no longer get any kind of hamburger in CA except well done but I was asked at a restaurant here in the desert last week how I wanted my burger. I said medium but thought about the medium rare that I used to love and wondered what they would have said if I asked for rare.

I've had an aversion to JITB since a friend worked at one when I was in high school. I do love their commercials but I haven't eaten at one in 30 years. I may have to change my occasional fast food from Mickey D to JITB.

I also am not especially fond of cooked spinach, except in pasta or eggs, and I eat a lot of raw spinach. We had just had a huge spinach salad, from Trader Joe's and I didn't wash it again - the night before all this came out. Good luck I guess. I'm good about washing produce when I'm in Mexico but I get lazy here in the US and buy the pre-washed packages. That's going to stop. I just got a small salad spinner for the rv so I can dry it after soaking. The world is just not as safe and friendly a place as it seemed when we were young.

Again, I really appreciate and trust your analysis of this. Thank you.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Anonimo

Sep 20, 2006, 3:58 AM

Post #10 of 23 (12184 views)

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Re: [Gayla] spinach

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Gayla, with all the knowledge you have of safe food handling procedures, how do you manage to eat while in Mexico? I consider myself pretty adventurous, yet there are certain lines I won't cross when it comes to my perception of food safety here.
For example; mariscos stands on the Plaza, carne apache, greasy enchiladas de pollo placeras, etc. I don't even want to LOOK at the unrefrigerated, raw albóndigas de pollo for sale in the mercado.
By the way, the barbacoa and carnitas vendors at Quiroga that I mentioned in another thread were also handling money. Normally, I avoid places that don't separate that function or wear gloves, but I was consumed by carnal lust, and we ate heartily. No ill effects.



Saludos,
Anonimo


Gayla

Sep 20, 2006, 10:55 AM

Post #11 of 23 (12156 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] spinach

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Mind over matter and possibly a cast iron stomach :-D.

I have been very lucky eating in Mexico and have only gotten really sick once. That was about 4 years ago in Loreto and was from fish tacos served in a legitimate restaurant. I got a really nasty case of food borne illness this past April at a food conference (how ironic) in Seattle. And not to be gross, but when I'm in Mexico I often experience the problem opposite of tourista in spite of eating massive amounts of fruit and fiber and drinking lots of water!

I am lucky to have friends in Mexico that have guided me in learning to make wise choices when eating street food. I also eat a lot of yogurt both NOB and SOB to maintain active intetinal flora. I eat from stands that are well patronized and where the people running it show some degree of personal hygiene. Take a look at the torta diva in this post - http://thediningdiva.typepad.com/.../09/la_libertad.html (you'll have to scroll down for it). She was well pulled together.

As for enchiladas placeras, go to Don Emilios stand at the end of the portales close to where the entrance to the mercado is. Watch them make the enchiladas and you'll realize that with the temperatures achieved by the fat in his propane fired braizer, no bacteria is going to survive. At worst, you'll hear your arteries slam shut due to fat consumption!

The atole de grano ladies a few feet down from the Gran Hotel are a safe bet because their soup is scaldingly hot. I purchase esquites from a couple of women in the plaza grande and suffered no ill effects. I even had them put <gasp> unrefrigerated crema on the corn instead of unrefrigerated mayo. The crema most likely being pastuerized and not contining eggs as the mayo did.

The evening taco vendor on the plaza chica is very safe, he moves huge amounts of product and the person handling money doesn't handle food.

I've eaten bionicos from the mercado, and I, too, have eyed those marisco vendors on the plaza chica but have not yet gotten up the nerve to try one, though I have watched a couple of them and am satisfied that they are reasonably safe.

Protein foods are most at risk, i.e. meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products. Salty and acidic foods are not so risky, so keep using that límon and chile. Attitude is half the battle. If you go into this thinking that you're going to get sick chances are you will. If you use some good common sense (like asking if the water used in aguas and licuados is purified), don't take stupid risks and don't worry about it, chances are good you're not going to experience a lot of illness. Some almost always goes with the territory, but I haven't found that to be the norm.


arbon

Sep 20, 2006, 1:11 PM

Post #12 of 23 (12141 views)

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Re: [Gayla] spinach

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More potent strain of E. coli feared

http://www.ctv.ca/...mp;subhub=PrintStory

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that fully 50 percent of those reported sick in the outbreak were hospitalized. That's more than the 25 percent to 30 percent seen in other E. coli outbreaks, said Dr. David Acheson of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

"We're running higher than that," Acheson told reporters in a conference call. "One possibility is this is a virulent strain."

Also unexpected was the 15 percent of food poisoning victims who developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Five percent is more typical, Acheson said.

He cautioned that the numbers could be skewed by underreporting of less severe cases of illness: "It's too early to say at this point," he added.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Anonimo

Sep 20, 2006, 1:12 PM

Post #13 of 23 (12140 views)

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Re: [Gayla] spinach

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We learned, yesterday, while eating huge cocteles of pulpos and camarones, at our favorite mariscos stand in morelia, that part of the composition of the sauce was oyster liquor! We always make a point of asking for our chavelas mixtas without oysters.



Saludos,
Anonimo


arbon

Sep 20, 2006, 1:26 PM

Post #14 of 23 (12138 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] spinach

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"We learned, yesterday, while eating huge cocteles of pulpos and camarones, at our favorite mariscos stand in morelia, that part of the composition of the sauce was oyster liquor! We always make a point of asking for our chavelas mixtas without oysters."

So what did you do after getting that info', stop eating?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Gayla

Sep 20, 2006, 2:38 PM

Post #15 of 23 (12125 views)

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Re: [arbon] spinach

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Arbon, thanks for this information. I haven't seen it yet. This not a good thing if it turns out to be what happened. Yikes!


Anonimo

Sep 20, 2006, 5:51 PM

Post #16 of 23 (12110 views)

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Re: [arbon] spinach

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Quote
So what did you do after getting that info', stop eating?

No, of course not! We had never had a problem with the food at that place.
We are also on very friendly terms with the owners, so it would have been a real faux pas to suddenly stop eating.



Saludos,
Anonimo


Camille

Sep 21, 2006, 9:27 PM

Post #17 of 23 (12068 views)

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Re: [Gayla] spinach

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I observed the mariscos operation at Plaza Chica for three weeks, noting that there were "regulars" who looked mighty happy, and well-fed, but that tub of cold water, though WITH detergent, used to wash the dishes, was daunting. Then one day, faster than I could say, "Para llevar!" I came to a solution.... and took home one of the best cocteles ever, and I live at the beach.....and I went back half a dozen times in the next couple of weeks. Give in!
What a pleasure it was to share food treasures from the mercado with friends here when I returned! I knew from a visit in May the rains had come early, and figured the food dehydrator would be useful with the bounty of early wild mushrooms .....don't remember just how many kilos I dried, sauteed and froze in chicken stock for use in sauces, but I should have kept count! Of course I stocked up on fresh ones the day I left. The green chorizo from Sin Rival was a huge hit, as were the fig preserves I made from a big bucket of the blackest figs I have ever seen. Texas figs make brown preserves, Michoacan figs make the loveliest rosy red....
To be able to taste again a part of Mexico you've come to love is a special kind of memory.


Ed and Fran

Sep 22, 2006, 8:16 AM

Post #18 of 23 (12047 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] spinach

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Jonna: ...one or two brussel sprouts are ok but more than that "yech". I can imagine the smell they make rotting in the fields is not a good one. Those yuppies in the Bay Area will buy anything if it is trendy, doesn't change the true nature of a brussel sprout.


I used to not be fond of Brussel sprouts, but then I started thinking of them as small cabbages. Now I really like them. Mind over matter.

Ed


wendy devlin

Sep 22, 2006, 8:30 AM

Post #19 of 23 (12046 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] spinach

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>thinking of them as small cabbages.

¡Que idea!
And broccoli as small trees:)

>Mind over matter

If you don't 'mind', it doesn't matter, no?


Ed and Fran

Sep 22, 2006, 8:35 AM

Post #20 of 23 (12045 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] spinach

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Actually, broccoli is our favorite vegetable. Didn't need to use any mind games for that one.

Ed & Fran


ekammin

Sep 24, 2006, 1:54 PM

Post #21 of 23 (12004 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] spinach

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Raw and undercooked spinach (or any other veggie) is in the category of what my father used to call "wabbit food". If you don't like boiled spinach, try it Chinese style - stir-fried, with a bit of oil, sugar and salt.


arbon

Sep 24, 2006, 2:16 PM

Post #22 of 23 (11998 views)

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Re: [ekammin] spinach

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A question from Mystified.

Dear Abby, does no one "Steam vegetables" down South?

Answer from Abby.

Dear Mystified, down South? - South of where dear?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by arbon on Sep 24, 2006, 2:17 PM)


esperanza

Sep 24, 2006, 2:16 PM

Post #23 of 23 (11998 views)

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Re: [ekammin] spinach

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Throw a whole lot of slivered garlic in that stirfry, ekammin, and a little sesame oil to finish it at the end.

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