6/23/11

How to Avoid E Coli

The latest E Coli outbreak overseas is just another reason to seriously consider a no dig garden or a backyard veggie patch. How can we be sure that the vegetables displayed in our greengrocers and supermarkets are safe for consumption and absolutely free of E Coli contamination?

24 people have reportedly died from this E Coli outbreak and thousands have taken ill.


The humble cucumber was initially the blame for the E Coli outbreak. Now, the blame has been transferred to German bean sprouts coming from Hamburg.

Even with frantic testing being carried out, the source is yet to be confirmed. Definitely alarming, to say the least.

The Russian Government has banned all imports from the European Union, all over the humble cucumber. This will greatly increase the prices for Russian consumers for fresh fruit and vegetables, who have already experienced a 15% increase in fresh produce prices this year.

You have to feel for the growers affected by this E Coli outbreak. Seeing the images of the huge mounds of produce being destroyed is such a waste. But somewhere along the production lines, the food health & safety procedures and guidelines have obviously been abused or ignored, thereby causing a snowball effect.

Normally I would purchase two bags of bean shoots and at least one cucumber every week in a typical visit to the supermarket. But this week, with the news of the E Coli outbreak, has been quite different.

Why? Do I know where the produce has come from? Is it safe for my family to eat? Is there a guarantee that the food has not been sourced from overseas? I'm not prepared to take that risk. Even after carefully reading the information on the back of the bean sprout pack, I could not bring myself to put it in my trolley.

Cross-contamination and especially E Coli are major contributors to many cases of food poisoning. The trouble is, you can't see it! So how do you avoid it? Due diligence and awareness in the home is a great starting place.

Food may become contaminated by poor handling and storage and/or lack of personal hygiene by the people preparing and serving the food.

To help you understand the food poisoning chain, the basic facts relate to bacteria on food with the right conditions to grow and multiply. Bacteria will grow in temperatures between 5 degrees C and 60 degrees C with moisture and food. When a link is broken along the food chain the bacterial contamination can be prevented.

Simple ways to break the chain:
• Ensure hands are clean before handling food
• Wash and sanitise all utensils used to prepare raw food
• Store raw food below cooked food in your refrigerator
• Store food correctly
• Hot food should be served over 60 degree C
• Cold food should be served below 5 degree C
• Ensure food is served as soon as possible after preparation
• Ensure fresh fruit and vegetables, especially any used for garnishing, are washed before use

These are just a few basic steps to take to make sure you do not give bacteria the right conditions to go forth and multiply with the opportunity of causing serious food poisoning to you and your family.

If you are not aware of cross-contamination causes and effect, start reading about it today and employ the recommended guidelines.

Of course, the best policy would be to prevent any possibility of contamination and food poisoning occurring in the first place. This brings us back to the humble cucumber and bean sprouts. Who would have thought these two relatively insignificant vegetables could contribute to the death of so many people and halt the distribution of the world's fresh produce. Not I.

Stay safe and enjoy and thank you for your interest.

by Susan Mclean
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6334533

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