Preventing Food Borne Illness

According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the US is not to be affected by recent E. coli outbreak in Europe. That’s good news!

The recent European outbreak has made 2,400 people in 12 countries ill. Twenty-three people have died. So far the testing for the source has been inconclusive. Original concern was that bacteria may have been spread on tainted cucumbers shipped from Spain. Then it was thought that the bacteria may have come from bean sprouts grown in Germany. It’s still not known where the bacteria originated.

E. Coli From Animal Waste
Food-borne E. coli infections typically cause a bad case of diarrhea, although it’s potentially deadly disease. Almost all E. coli are associated with mammals. That is why undercooked ground beef can be a problem.

E. coli can also come from produce, which has been contaminated with fecal matter. Animal feces can spread E. coli in fields. This is thought to be the case in the spinach outbreak in California.

Most produce is waxed after harvest to withstand the long journey to market. Wax seals in pesticide residues and debris, which make them even more difficult to remove with just water. To reach the contaminants buried beneath the surface of your vegetables and fruits, you need a cleanser that also removes the wax.

Organic Produce
Food isn’t just grown locally it comes from all over the world, which posses a lot of challenges. Even “organic” food can come from places like China. Last June, I wrote “USDA Organics…from China?” How in the world is it possible to track organic food from China? They use human waste as fertilizer and have their government officials overseeing their crops. Not much hope of really getting organic produce from China. You always want to check the “country of origin” before purchasing produce.

To earn the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic certification, the land must be free from prohibited substances such as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, sewage sludge and other toxins as well as genetically modified organisms for at least three years.

The best solution to preventing food born illnesses is to prevent it at its source. That being said, there are some things you can do in your kitchen to minimize the possibility of a food borne illness.

You Can Minimize Food Borne Illness

• Wash your hands before and after preparing fresh produce.

• Wash all produce under running water. Even wash produce BEFORE you peel it.

• Don’t use the same cutting board for meat and produce.

• Cook meat thoroughly A major source of E. coli poisoning is undercooked ground beef. Don’t serve it medium rare or rare.

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