7 Easy Tips You Need to Avoid Food Borne Illness
When we think of food poisoning, typically meat and eggs come to mind. The meat must not have been cooked enough or an egg product was eaten raw. But did you know that half of all foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States are actually caused by produce?
You heard me right. Those innocent looking cucumbers may not be so innocent after all.
But it does not have to be this way. There are so many simple practices and processes we can do in the comfort of our own homes to help reduce the risk that we become sick from produce. In fact, I will give you 7 of them right now.
1. Grocery Store Sleuthing. The grocery store can be the first place your fruit and veggies become contaminated without you even knowing it. Think about it. People touch raw produce while it is sitting pretty to be purchased. Also, if it is put in your cart next to or under a raw meat package, there is a possibility of raw meat juices cross contaminating your produce. You can play it safe by storing your produce above meat.
2. This Works at Home, Too. The same idea applies at home. It is a great idea to store raw meat products below produce or ready-to-eat products to ensure there is no raw juice spillage.
3. Scrub a Dub. I am sure you have heard the benefits of washing produce before it is eaten. The good news is, you do not need to wash it right away. For the best results, wash it right before you eat it or use it in your meal prep.
4. Water Works! There are articles upon articles about how fruit cleanses and vinegars are the best things to get your produce clean. I am here to tell you that they do no better than any other methods. But the good news is, good old running water is sufficient enough to get the job done. If you are washing a fruit or vegetable with a rough exterior, like a watermelon, a cucumber, or an avocado for example, I recommend using a produce brush to get into the grooves and get all of the dirt and germs out.
5. Don’t Forget to Towel Off. It may seem silly, but drying off your produce after you wash it is a great practice. Not only does it get the remaining bacteria and dirt off of your washed food, but it also reduces the likelihood of your food picking up any new bacteria while it waits to be eaten. Bacteria love moisture, so reducing the amount of water on the food’s surface can really help.
6. Separate is Good. When prepping fruits and vegetables for meals, it is a great practice to keep them separate from raw meats. Cross-contamination is the most common way produce becomes contaminated with dangerous bacteria.
7. When Saving for Later, Opt for Airtight Containers. Just like your leftover casseroles, cut and washed produce is best stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Again, it is best to store this above any raw meats.
For extra credit, it is also a good idea to stay away from convenience produce packs – like precut fruit or pre-packaged lettuce. I know they are quick and easy, but they also have a higher likelihood of contamination due to the packaging process
This awesome guest post was written by Candess Zona-Mendola of MakeFoodSafe.com.
Candess is a paralegal & blogger at MakeFoodSafe.com. Candess finds ways to get more helpful information about food safety concerns and solutions to families (especially other mothers) in a timely fashion.
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Hi! I'm Bri....the wife, mom, RN, and Certified Health Coach behind HippieDippieMom. Read more about me here.
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