More and more research confirms the need to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables for good health and to help protect us from chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and stroke. However, if fresh produce is not treated properly it can actually bring infectious diseases to your table. It is paramount to follow food safety guidelines. It is crucial to always wash carefully all fresh produce whether it is organic or not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year one in six Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food and nearly half of these foodborne illnesses are caused by germs on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Infants and Seniors Most at Risk
Infants and seniors age 65 and older are most at risk for picking up infections from food, as their immune systems are weak. Infants and seniors are also the ones most likely to get seriously ill. Some of the infections that can be picked up from food are from strains of bacteria that can no longer be treated with antibiotics, as they have become resistant.
Antibiotic Resistant Strains of Bacteria
According to the CDC, salmonella and campylobacter are two of the antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria most commonly spread through food and these cause 410,000 antibiotic resistant infections in the United States every year. To read more about antibiotic resistance see our blog post from January 2, 2019.
Separate Fruits and Vegetables from Raw Meat, Poultry and Seafood
- Separate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, raw poultry and raw seafood in your shopping cart, in your grocery bags and in your refrigerator.
- Do not buy fruits or vegetables that are bruised, wilted or damaged.
- Throw away fruits or vegetables that have become moldy.
- Throw away any potatoes that have turned green, as these are poisonous and can lead to serious illness.
- Do not use any raw root vegetables that have been gnawed on by rodents. You might only use it in cooking if you first cut off the gnawed on part. You should wear disposable gloves when handling any root vegetable that has been gnawed by rodents and wash your hands immediately with soap.
Wash all Fruits and Fresh Vegetables
Wash all fruits and vegetables carefully with water or soaps that are considered safe to use on produce. Vegetables that are used raw in salads, whether organic or not, like cabbage or lettuce should have outer leaves removed and discarded and then it should be cut in half or in chunks and soaked in salted water for about 10 minutes and then rinsed and drained. Organically grown produce also must be scrupulously washed. Maybe organically grown is free from pesticides, but not from bugs and microbes that can make us really sick.
Sprouts Should be Cooked and not Eaten Raw
Cook sprouts thoroughly to kill microbes that can cause serious illness. The warm, humid conditions needed to grow sprouts also are ideal for bacteria and other microbes to multiply. Therefore, eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts may lead to food poisoning.
Handle Raw Meat, Fish and Eggs with Care
Wear Disposable Gloves When Handling Raw Meat, Raw Fish or Eggs
Raw meat, raw fish and eggs and egg shells have been found to contain strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Never handle any raw meat, fish or eggs without wearing disposable gloves and wash your hands well with soap after you discard the gloves. In general, frozen meat, fish and poultry will contain less bacteria than fresh meat, poultry and fish, as the freezing process kills off most bacteria.
Use Separate Cutting Boards for Raw Meat, Dairy Products and Fruits and Vegetables
Use separate cutting boards, preferably of different colors, for cutting raw meat or raw fish, for cutting up fruits and vegetables and for cutting cheeses. Do not cut cheeses on a cutting board used also for cutting up raw meat or raw fish, as dairy products will very quickly pick up any bacteria left on the cutting board that was used for raw meat or raw fish. Cutting boards are often found to be contaminated with bacteria, especially salmonella. Pour boiling water frequently over cutting boards that are used to cut up raw meat and raw fish.
High Cooking Temperatures will Kill Most Bacteria and Viruses in Meat
High cooking temperatures will kill most bacteria and viruses in well-cooked meat, poultry and fish. Be wary of eating raw fish, even though sushi is now very popular. Not only bacteria, but dangerous parasites like tapeworms have been found in raw fish.
Video on Food Safety
The CDC has a short video on food safety.
Long-term Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Care
If your loved one needs to go to a rehab or skilled nursing care home, be certain to find one that has a very good rating with no outbreaks of infectious diseases. Choose one that is very clean and has a bathroom in each room. The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation is a 5-star facility in scenic Galloway Township, New Jersey. Royal Suites has spotlessly clean private and semi-private rooms with a bathroom in each bedroom. Also, the kitchen is immaculately clean where delicious and healthy meals are prepared by an expert chef under the guidance of a registered dietitian.
It certainly pays to follow good safety rules in the kitchen in order to prevent catching serious infectious diseases, especially as today there are many strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.