Home food safety key to preventing illness

Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A report this week found food-borne pathogens on salad greens make the most people sick, but U.S. experts say use proper food handling, don't avoid produce.

The Home Food Safety program -- a collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods -- encourages Americans to practice safe food handling at home instead of staying away from produce.

"While this study found produce accounted for nearly half of food poisoning illnesses, everyone should still eat plenty of fruits and vegetables," Rachel Begun, a registered dietitian and academy spokeswoman, said in a statement.

"One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially when it comes to the particularly nasty norovirus. The norovirus accounted for 46 percent of the illnesses according to this study, and while hand sanitizer is great to reduce the spread of some germs, research shows us that soap and water is best."

Begun encouraged Americans to visit www.HomeFoodSafety.org for how to reduce the risk of food poisoning, and offered the following advice:

-- Properly wash all fresh fruits and vegetables, whether they have a peel or not, with cool tap water just before eating.

-- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating. Remove and discard outer leaves of lettuce.

-- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.

-- Cut all fruits and vegetables on a separate cutting board from raw meats and fish.

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