Regular readers of Headline Health have learned about many sources of foodborne illness, including many spread by contact with animal or human feces.
Here are a few special problem areas to keep in mind. Remember that just because a problem food is not in the news this week, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to eat.
Best advice: be your own food safety inspector …
Foods You’d Never Expect to Cause Foodborne Illness – Source: HealthyWay
When not properly washed before slicing, this tasty fruit can become contaminated with salmonella. [Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. – Ed.]
In fact, pre-cut melon sold in clear, plastic containers accounted for over sixty cases of salmonella outbreak earlier this year.
While you’re fretting about the potato salad or ground beef at your friend’s BBQ, romaine lettuce is yet another thing to add to your list of concerns.
The leafy vegetable was recently associated with five deaths and numerous illnesses caused by E. coli infections.
Restaurant goers beware: Your favorite menu items can easily be contaminated with norovirus. The most commonly contaminated prepared foods include salads, sandwiches, ice, cookies, and fruit. This is just another reason to be picky about which establishments you choose to frequent.
Meat and Poultry Products Like Stews, Casseroles, and Gravy
These staples are linked to institutional-style food service, like what you might see in cafeteria or banquet settings. When made in large batches and kept warm for too long before serving, these products may include a helping of Clostridium perfringens.
Signs to Look Out For
Don’t rely on obvious tell-tale signs to determine when foods have gone bad (e.g. off color, off smell, a furry coat of mold). “It’s foolish to depend on your senses to decide if a pathogenic overgrowth has happened.”
Similarly, we shouldn’t buy into the belief that refrigeration and freezing kill bacteria. They don’t.
Refrigeration and freezing simply slow down the pathogen reproduction. Freezing slows it down more, which is why we can keep foods longer in the freezer than the refrigerator, and why you can get food poisoning from foods left in the refrigerator too long.
Also, check local news sources to find out if any restaurants have been flagged by the health department. Read more.