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Tips on how to avoid the 'stomach bug'

6:43 PM, Jul 29, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND --  More cases of the stomach bug Cyclospora have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control, including one case in Ohio.

Health officials believe the illness is linked to contaminated produce.

Do you know how to clean your produce properly?

Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly with cool running water is the best way to reduce your risk of food-borne illness.

It's a good idea to wash those pre-washed salads too. They could still contain a range of bacteria, according to tests conducted by Consumer Reports.

Here's a list of produce safety recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

  • Clean vegetables and fruits just before preparing them for use, not before storing them. (Moisture encourages bacterial growth and hastens spoiling.)
  • To clean produce, use plain, cool, running water and rub gently with your hands or a brush. Special rinses aren't necessary; they have not been shown to be any more effective than plain water.
  • Cut out any damaged areas where germs might thrive.
  • Remove and discard outer leaves of leafy greens, such as head lettuce, cabbage, kale, etc. Rinse the remaining leaves individually. Blot them dry with clean towels, or use a salad spinner.
  • Rub tomatoes and soft fruits gently under cool, running water for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • The uneven surfaces of rough- and hard-surfaced produce, such as cantaloupe, squash and some root vegetables, provides an ideal hiding place for bacteria. Scrub these foods thoroughly with a vegetable brush under water before you cut into them.
  • Also clean smooth, hard-skinned produce you plan to peel, such as mangoes, papayas and cucumbers. Rinse them for 30 to 60 seconds under water, while rubbing them with your hands or a veggie brush. Dry the produce before you peel it, then eat it right away.
  • Rinse berries and small fruits in a colander using the sink sprayer. Gently toss the fruit with your hand so the spray reaches all fruit. Blot dry gently with clean towels.
  • Contrary to oft-repeated advice that suggests mushrooms become too soft when washed, it's OK to rinse mushrooms quickly under running water to remove surface dirt.
  • Keep your refrigerator bins clean by washing them in the sink using warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry the bins before replacing them in the refrigerator. Be sure the refrigerator temperature stays 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Store meat and seafood in closed or sealed containers, away from produce.

















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