Last week, an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to cantaloupe occurred across several states in the southwest. Although a federal recall has not occurred, many grocery stores have voluntarily discarded the melons. As a nutrition professional, my concern is health and safety; eating healthfully is about safely eating nutritious foods!
In light of the global food supply and many factors that go into our busy lives, foodborne illness can happen even to the most vigilant of us: Bacteria are naturally all around us, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. First, clean hands, utensils, and surfaces often. This includes washing the outside of fruits and vegetables before cutting them or biting into them, because contaminants that may be on the outside can transfer to the edible portion of the produce. Second, to prevent cross-contamination when shopping, storing, and preparing, separate fresh fruits and vegetables from raw foods that must be cooked, such as meats. Third, to prevent microbial growth, cook foods thoroughly, use a food thermometer, and keep cooked foods hot. Finally, chill uneaten foods immediately and never thaw foods at room temperature.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is important, so eat safely by always washing before consuming. For more information, visit www.FoodSafety.gov and enjoy responsibly!