Mike Parker

Nobody wants to hear about another E. coli outbreak. The nasty infection can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, and in rare cases victims can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, which can be life-threatening. Fortunately, most E. coli are harmless and are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. But that other kind…best avoid it if at all possible.

The problem is, until an outbreak hits, and the CDC does its snooping to determine where the problem E. coli originated, there’s no way to tell if the food you are preparing is infected or not. Following basic food preparation hygiene will certainly help. For example, the CDC recommends washing fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says the contents have already been washed. And cook your meats thoroughly, at least to an internal temperature of 145 degrees for beef steaks and roasts, and 160 degrees for pork and ground beef.

If an outbreak does occur, it’s best to follow the old adage: when in doubt throw it out!

The CDC recently identified the source of the E. coli outbreak that claimed the life of at least one individual and infected at least 121 others since it was first reported in March 2018, as contaminated romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona region. The CDC’s advice:

Do not eat or buy romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. Product labels often do not identify growing regions; so, do not eat or buy romaine lettuce if you do not know where it was grown. This includes whole heads and hearts of romaine, chopped romaine, baby romaine, organic romaine, and salads and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce. If you do not know if the lettuce in a salad mix is romaine, do not eat it!
 

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