Should We Give Up Produce to Avoid Salmonella?

July 11, 2008 at 1:44 am 1 comment

Tomatoes are the most recent fresh produce to receive unwelcome attention as a possible culprit for the latest Salmonella outbreak. However, the newest reports contradict initial stories that put the blame on tomatoes. The federal inspectors are now looking at the chili peppers or other ingredients in freshly prepared salsa. So far,  the FDA has so far been unable to identify the precise source of the contamination, and they may not.

Should you give up eating raw tomatoes or skip the freshly made salsa? While getting a food borne-infection may be troubling, the response should not be to avoid eating fresh fruit and vegetables if you want to eat well and have a healthy diet. Instead of worrying about eating contaminated food, the simplest solution is to be play it safe and be proactive.

By following 4 steps, recommended by the CDC, you can minimize any risk of food-borne illness in your home, and to you and your family.

To make sure your food is safe:

  1. WASH YOUR HANDS, AND YOUR FOOD Before eating or handling food, wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Then, do the same to any food before you cut or cook it. Wash it before you peel it. Wash any utensils and surfaces that come in contact with raw food, as well. Then, wash your hands again. And, keep raw food away from cooked food.
  2. MInd The Temperature. Thaw food overnight in the refrigerator or use the microwave, then prepare the defrosted food immediately. Do not leave food sitting on the kitchen counter. Otherwise, place all uneaten food in the refrigerator to keep it cold. Anything left sitting at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown away. Set your refrigerator to 40 degrees F and your freezer at 0 F to keep food properly stored.
  3. Cook Food Completely. Cook meats medium well so its good through, especially ground meats (at least pink but not raw). Thoroughly, cook fish until it flakes with a fork. Eggs (specially yolks) should be cooked until firm.
  4. Be Extra cautious with Children. If you are concerned about a food or how its prepared, skip it. Don’t be shy about asking questions about how your food is prepared when eating out.

Print out this list and post it in your kitchen as a reminder for all family members.

If you only eat organic, should you still be concerned? Any fresh produce, organic or not, imported or US-farmed, local or not, stands the chance of carrying bacteria that causes food borne illnesses. Using safe handling practices, especially wash it well, stands as the best method for protecting yourself and your family against this type of health hazard.

For a more comprehensive list of Food Safety do’s and don’ts, visit


Entry filed under: Food Ingredients, Nutrition News. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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