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USDA Unveils Plans to Stem Food-borne Illness

Agency Shifts Focus to Preventing Food-borne Illness Rather Than Just Responding

Consumers Should Also Take Protective Measures

Supermarket shoppers, meanwhile, can take steps to protect themselves from food-borne illnesses, says Tierno. While he says that most people do a good job of thoroughly cooking meat, they are not as careful when they are shopping.

"When you pick up a package of meat, your hands can get contaminated," says Tierno, referring to the often leaky plastic-wrapped packages of ground meat and chicken bought in markets. "It doesn't take much."

He advises consumers to pick out meat last, to keep the packages away from other foods, and, until you have had a chance to wash them, to avoid putting your hands in your mouth or rubbing your eyes. He also recommends carrying an alcohol-based gel or wipes containing a small amount of bleach to clean yourself up after handling a package.

"You can't live in a germ-free bubble," he says, "but you should be aware of contaminants and how to break their transmission."

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