Lettuce Learn to Wash Produce Properly
Tips to keep your fruits and veggies safe and healthy.
Despite the recent spinach scare, food-borne illnesses are actually on the
decline overall, according to Shelley Feist, executive director of the
Partnership for Food Safety Education in Washington.
"We initiated the 'Fight Bac' campaign 10 years ago to inform consumers
how to practice home food safety, and ever since, we have seen a declining
incidence of food-borne illness," she says.
That's not to say that food-borne illness is not still a serious problem.
The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 76 million people get sick, more
than 300,000 are hospitalized, and as many as 5,000 die from food-borne illness
Those most at risk are "young children, pregnant women, older adults,
and anyone with a weakened immune system," such as someone suffering from a
chronic illness, says Feist, whose nonprofit group seeks to educate consumers
on safe food handling.
While all produce is subject to bacterial contamination, lettuce appears to
be especially vulnerable. In response to recurring outbreaks of E. coli linked
to lettuce, the FDA earlier this year developed a Lettuce Safety Initiative,
which aims to assess industry safety practices and alert consumers quickly in
case of a problem. After the recent outbreak, the initiative was expanded to