Prevent Foodborne Illnesses – How to Handle Fruits and Vegetables Safely

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Foodborne diseases and threats to food safety constitute a growing public health problem. It is important to understand what can cause foodborne illnesses and how to help prevent them.

Fruits and vegetables can get contaminated when they come in contact with harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows. Fresh produce can also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during food preparation or storage, either commercially or in the home kitchen.

Eating contaminated produce (or fruit and vegetable juices made from contaminated produce) can lead to foodborne illness, which can cause serious – and sometimes fatal -illnesses. Protect yourself and your family from illness by following safe handling tips.

  • Buy produce that is not bruised or damaged. If produce is pre-cut, such as mixed salad greens, choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • It is best to avoid the free samples of cut produce often set out in store aisles.
  • Refrigerate fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) immediately and store perishables at temperatures of 40° F or below.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after handling produce.
  • Use a mixture of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water to wipe down and sanitize your sink and counter before and after handling produce.
  • Generally, if packages of pre-cut and packaged produces indicate the contents have been pre-washed and ready to eat, you can use the product without further washing. If you do choose to wash a product marked “pre-washed”, and “ready-to-eat,” be sure to use safe handling practices to avoid any cross-contamination.
  • Wash produce just before preparing or eating. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or produce that is purchased from a grocery store or farmer’s market. It is not necessary to wash  fruits and vegetables with anything other than cold, clean water. You may need to use a small vegetable brush for some vegetables such as cucumbers and potatoes. Even though you will cut or peel melons or other produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first in clean water. Dry with a paper towel or clean towel. This may help to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Throw away produce that looks or smells bad.
  • Fruit juices and cider should be purchased pasteurized, a process that kills any bacteria. They will be labeled if they have been thus treated.
  • Sprouts carry a risk of food-borne illness. As seeds and beans need warm, humid conditions to sprout and grow, these are ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. Rinsing will not help remove bacteria. There is danger even from home grown sprouts if they are eaten raw or cooked only slightly.

Keeping these food safety tips in mind when buying and preparing produce will help keep you and your family safe from foodborne illnesses possibly associated with any fresh fruits, vegetables, and juices.

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food writer and author
Download your free report on healthy eating by visiting http://www.HealthyKidsEatingTips.com

 Prevent Foodborne Illnesses   How to Handle Fruits and Vegetables Safely
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Food Safety – A Growing Concern

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The recent food recall for contaminated eggs points out again the fact we need to be more vigilant about our food supply.

Are our food products, especially animal products, grown under the best conditions conducive to our health and the health of the animals?

We may need to be willing to pay more for free range, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, vaccine-free animals for our food supply. “Pay more and eat less” may need to be our mantra.

Food safety gained a step forward this week, though, when a Federal Judge in California ordered the halt of using genetically modified sugar beet seeds from Monsanto (NYSE:MON) for planting. I understand that now farmers are concerned there will not be enough seed available in the non-genetically modified variety to plant all the acres that would be planted into sugar beets.

This is in itself troubling. Not enough non-genetically modified varieties? Are we reliant on one major company for much of the seed needed?  This is indeed scary.

Your comments, please.

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Home and Family Living
Concerned about the health of our country

http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

 Food Safety   A Growing Concern
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