Food-Related Illness: Playing It Safe
Who's at Risk? continued...
2. Always Wash Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (Even If They Come In
Remember the spinach scare across the United States in the fall of 2006 that
resulted in several deaths? Fruits and vegetables can have some of the most
deadly food-related pathogens, particularly if they are washed or irrigated
with water that is contaminated with animal or human feces. These germs can get
into fruits and vegetables during processing or packaging. And if the workers
who packed the fruits and vegetables into crates are ill, these germs go right
onto the foods they are touching.
Scrub all fresh fruits and vegetables to remove germs and avoid illness.
This means rewashing any pre-washed, packaged salads before serving, to remove
bacteria and pesticides that remain on the leaves.
3. Be Aware of "At Risk" Foods.
There are certain risky foods you need to be cautious about, such as raw
bean sprouts. No matter how fresh they are, dangerous bacteria can continue to
grow and may carry pathogens. (Cooked bean sprouts may be OK.)
Raw eggs are another risky food, and should be avoided. Also risky are
juices that are not pasteurized. During the pasteurization process, any
food-related bacteria are killed.
4. Cook Foods Thoroughly.
Foods need to be cooked thoroughly to kill any dangerous bacteria. Eggs must
be cooked until the yolk is firm. If you are reheating leftovers, bring them to
165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria. Sauces and soups should be brought to
a boil when they are reheated.
5. Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold.
While foods may be safe immediately after cooking, if you allow them to stay
on the counter for longer than two hours, deadly bacteria may start to
reproduce. Store food immediately after cooking.
And keep cold foods cold. Do not defrost and then refreeze foods unless you
first cook them.
6. Use Healthy Hygiene.
Before cooking or eating, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap
and warm water (sing "Happy Birthday to You" to pass the time). Rub
your hands together, as the friction of skin against skin will enable you to
remove the germs. Also, wash hands frequently throughout the day.