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Sour Grapes: Preventing Food-Borne Illness By Properly Preparing Your Food

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

A recall of tomatoes, and just a day or so after we went shopping for, you, guessed it, mostly produce. In fact, we are both watch what we eat and salads make a great dinner dish with either a little chicken or fish for a high protein, low-cal, and pretty much low fat meal. But, for a tasty salad, at least in my culinary opinion, you “need” tomatoes. Besides being pretty much a pseudo-vegetarian (I do eat dairy and fish…but ZERO poultry or red meat), I’m starting to wonder what else we soon won’t be able to enjoy or eat.

And, experts add that while it’s a shame to toss out tomatoes and other foods, like we in OUR home did, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially since many of these airborne illnesses most of us can’t smell or taste.

While cherry, grape and some vine tomatoes are in the clear, many are still being investigated. With that said experts suggest, depending on how many your have, either getting rid of them or taking them back to the store. Remember, washing contaminated foods won’t make them safe or even safer to eat.

While ketchup and cooked sauces are said not to have been affected by the outbreak, many eateries have taken precautions and removed not only raw tomatoes from their meals and menu, but some have done away with certain salsas as well. You can protect yourself by asking the restaurant for no tomatoes and nothing made from tomatoes either. Remember, simply removing added tomatoes may not help since they may contaminate other food on your plate.

Make sure you know the symptoms of contamination and a salmonella outbreak. According to experts, salmonella is characterized by cramps, headache, fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. And, these symptoms can rear their ugly head between 12 and 72 hours after infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While some may incorrectly suspect the flu, it’s best to see and/or check with your doctor immediately.

Build better habits when it comes to handling food. Wash hands thoroughly before eating, cooking, or even touching food, especially certain foods such as produce. And, it’s best to thoroughly wash fruits and veggies, even organic varieties, before adding them to your meals. Use hands or a veggie brush to softly scrub and don’t forget to discard the outer layers of lettuce and cabbage.

According to the Produce Marketing Association, it’s the “scrubbing” action and the “intensity” of the running water that eliminates residue and debris. However, they do caution AGAINST keeping produce in a water bath or using harsh cleansers.

You should also always wash cutting boards, preferably both before and after you use them. In fact, experts suggest having a variety of cutting boards for your vast variety of foods. In addition the FDA recommends washing utensils and countertops with hot soapy water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood precuts and the prep of produce, especially if it’s to be eaten raw. Plastic and other nonporous cutting boards and utensils can be run through the dishwasher when not in use.

Long Island Safety Articles > Sour Grapes: Preventing Food-Borne Illness By Properly Preparing Your Food

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