Reducing your risk for salmonella poisoning
Associated Press Writer
A salmonella outbreak linked to raw tomatoes serves as a reminder to take extra care with summer fruits and vegetables.
Salmonella can be transmitted to humans when fecal material from animals or humans contaminates food. Symptoms are similar to the flu, but the poisoning can be fatal to young children, pregnant women and other people with weakened immune systems.
Properly cooking meat, poultry and eggs, and washing produce are generally the best methods to prevent illness.
CHECK YOUR TOMATOES
The Food and Drug Administration is advising people even in unaffected states to eat only tomatoes not associated with the outbreak: cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and tomatoes grown at home.
Preliminary data suggest that raw red plum, Roma, or round red tomatoes are the cause, according to the FDA.
Cooking tomatoes at 145 degrees will kill salmonella.
INQUIRE AT RESTAURANTS
Ketchup and cooked sauces are not affected by the outbreak. And several restaurants are not serving tomatoes ” on Monday, McDonald’s said it had stopped serving sliced tomatoes in its U.S. restaurants.
REPORT THE ILLNESS
Many people misdiagnose salmonella poisoning as the flu, says Jones. Salmonella poisoning generally occurs hours after ingestion, she says, and involves symptoms such as abdominal cramps, headache, fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
The CDC says symptoms generally appear 12 to 72 hours after infection. People should report a suspected foodborne illness to the local health department.
Wash all produce, whether organic or not, with cold running water, says Jones. Scrub them gently with your hands or with a vegetable brush. Remove outer layers of cabbage and lettuce.
Fruits should be washed, regardless of whether you are eating the peel, says Al Baroudi, president of Food Safety Institute (FSI) International. He says even if someone is peeling an orange, that person is touching part of the orange he is going to eat. (Bananas are an exception.)
Don’t bother with a special vegetable wash, says Jones. She says studies show that it’s not much better than water.
WASH HANDS, SURFACES
Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before handling food, says Blakeslee. Wash your hands if you come in contact with pet feces, use the bathroom or change a baby’s diaper.
Also wash cutting boards, counters and utensils to avoid cross-contamination. Avoid any kind of contact with raw meat when preparing fresh vegetables. Refrigerate sliced up fruits and vegetables.
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