Food poisoning by fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood are caused by pathogens that cannot be seen or tasted. These harmful germs include but not limited to: Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria which can make you sick and potentially lead to death. Produce was one of the leading causes for food-borne illness between 1990-2003 (Stewart, 2007, p.22). In this blog, you will learn the methods to prevent food poisoning from happening to you and your family. Some people are more at risk than others such as those who have a suppressed immune systems, pregnant, young children, and older adults. To ensure you stay healthy let’s go over some tips to prevent you from becoming sick.

First let’s discuss produce, according to Stewart (2007) the only warning on food safety for the consumer is supported by Fight BAC! Check, Clean, Rinse Separate, Chill, and Throw Away. They have a great reference PDF to check out, click the link to read and download https://www.fightbac.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Produce_EducatingConsumers1.pdf

When purchasing fruits and vegetables look for any signs of damage such as holes or bruising. Harmful bacteria could be in the soil or water where its grown, which contaminates the produce.

2. As always wash hands before handling food, then wash your fruits and vegetables with regular tap water.

3. I recommend washing the prewashed salads as well, especially those at higher risk of becoming sick. Recent outbreaks of e-coli have shown just because its prewashed and packaged does not prevent bacteria from growing.

4. Next layout your produce on a flat surface to dry. Pat down your fruits and vegetables with a paper towel before prepping cutting, peeling, or cooking.

5. Be careful of cross-contamination and keep away from meats & seafood. Be mindful when grocery shopping as well, keep foods separated. People tend to pile their groceries in the cart because they are in a rush. Take time and organize to prevent your meats, poultry, or seafood from leaking.

6. After prepping your fruits and vegetables, refrigerate within 2 hours to prevent the growth of bacteria. Refrigeration should be below 40 degrees F in a clean environment.

7. Know when to toss it, if your produce shows any signs of spoilage throw it away. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

8. Cook your vegetables- This method is fail proof, especially for those who have autoimmune issues and kidney disease.

Fruits and vegetables add important nutrients and vitamins to your diet. According to Choose Myplate, you should fill half your plate with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables at every meal. Now let’s discuss meat, poultry, and seafood.

Safe Handling for Meat, Poultry, & Seafood

1. Always wash hands before handling food.

2. Cook meats thoroughly to prevent the disease-causing organisms and if frozen completely thaw before cooking.

3. Pathogens produce rapidly, eating meats as soon as they are cooked is highly recommended for gut health and prevention of food poisoning.

4. Store cooked foods carefully and be mindful of temperature changes on leftovers. It is recommended by Ariscain, never feed infants reheated foods.

5. Pay attention to recalls in the news.

6. Watch for discoloration and smells in meat, poultry, and seafood. Don’t rely solely on the change of color as it being rancid, when the protein myoglobin loses oxygen the shade of meat changes.

7. While shopping, choose your meat, poultry, and seafood at the end of your grocery store visit to ensure they stay at the correct temperature.

8. Do not buy foods past the “Sell By” date.

9. After preparing meats, poultry, or seafood wash cutting boards, utensils, and countertops using 1 tbsp. of bleach for sanitation.

10. Cook meats and seafood within 2 days of purchase, cook poultry within 3-5 days of purchase. If you freeze in original package it is recommended to also wrap with foil or plastic wrap to preserve freshness and cross contamination.

Safe handling techniques need to be practiced daily to prevent dangerous bacteria from growing in fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood causing harmful food-borne illnesses.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Eat Clean!

-Cindy Ross

References

Stewart, K. L. (2007). Eating between the lines: The supermarket shoppers guide to the truth behind food labels. New York: St. Martins Griffin.

Partnership for Food Safety Education: Your Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Safe Handling for Good Health. Home handling tips for consumers. Retrieved from https://www.fightbac.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Produce_EducatingConsumers1.pdf

Food Safety Home Page | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/

Choose MyPlate. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Ariscain, V. H. (n.d.). PAHO/WHO Health Emergencies – PAHO/WHO Health Emergencies | PAHO/WHO. Retrieved from https://www.paho.org/disasters/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=552:who-golden-rules-for-safe-food-preparation&Itemid=0&lang=en

SIS. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index