If bananas could sue for libel, they would have a case. An e-mail rumor that was traced to the University of California at Riverside claimed that shipments of bananas from Costa Rica were infected with the "flesh-eating bacteria" that cause necrotizing fasciitis. The FDA and the CDC reassured the public that the bacteria could not survive long on the surface of a banana. The episode shows the Internet's ability to speed the spread of urban legends. For the "toxins du jour," check out the Urban Legends Reference Pages at www.snopes.com, maintained by the San Fernando Folklore Society. The site documents hoaxes such as a rumor that Procter & Gamble's pot scrubber sponges contain a derivative of Agent Orange. When that news hit the company no doubt went bananas.
COPYRIGHT 2000 International Medical News Group
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group