Yesterday morning I turned on the news for the first time in a week. Two of the top stories? "Killer cantelope" (the anchor's words, not mine) and a study about arsenic in apple juice. And that's after reading about a ground turkey recall just days before.
I worry enough about the food I feed my kids. Is my prep time and budget giving them enough produce? Are they eating a healthy array of foods? And yet, now if I buy store-bought foods, once again I'm reminded that I need to rethink about food safety.
The reality is, there's much we can do to prevent food-borne illnesses at our home, such as properly washing your food, cooking utensils and supplies, and your hands; and separating raw produce and meat.
British Columbia Healthlink also offers these tips:
- Before eating fresh fruits and vegetables, always wash them in a dilute dish soap solution and then rinse in clean running water. Washing helps remove germs, as well as traces of certain pesticides on the surface. The most important steps in minimizing the risk of contaminants are proper washing, good agitation and a thorough rinse.
- To be safer, you can rinse produce with a sanitizer after washing and rinsing with water. You can use a commercially prepared vegetable/fruit sanitizer or a dilute bleach solution. The solution can be made by adding one teaspoon (5 ml) of household bleach to one quart (1 litre) of water.
- When washing fruits and vegetables, cut away any damaged or bruised areas since harmful germs can grow there. Throw away any rotten fruits and vegetables.
- Always wash fruits and vegetables that have a rind before peeling or preparing them, such as pineapples, cantaloupe, oranges, melons and squash. Although the skin and outer surfaces protect them, germs can grow if the surface gets broken, pierced or cut, especially in melons and tomatoes.
- Wash and scrub fruits and vegetables that have firm, rough surfaces such as potatoes, using a clean scrub brush for produce.
- Always discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables grown in or near the ground, such as lettuce and cabbage. The outer leaves are more likely to be contaminated with germs.
This is one of those situations where, when you can, it's best to get to know your growers. I'm starting to believe more and more that the somewhat higher price you might pay when supporting your local farmers on meat or milk may be worth the price of keeping your loved ones safe from the foods that are supposed to keep you healthy.