Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Leafy greens are good for you, right? They are, if they are well-washed.
The CDC has published which foods are most linked to outbreaks, and leading the pack is produce, which causes nearly half the illnesses.
Among produce, green, leafy vegetables – like spinach and kale with their intricate layers – are most likely to blame.
Dairy, fruit and nuts, and poultry also made the list.
“Our food, from the time it’s grown, to the time it gets on our table, is handled by so many different people, and it goes through so many different systems,” points out dietician Heather Mangieri of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Turns out, illness from meat was responsible for the most deaths – more than 600 a year – with bacterial infections such as listeria and salmonella.
Most of the time, the germ behind foodborne illness is norovirus, which causes the dreaded vomiting and diarrhea.
“Where does the breakdown occur? That’s one of the important things for us to figure out,” says Mangieri about the point of the CDC’s study. “We need to look at the whole system.”
Regardless of the cause, safeguarding yourself comes down to food-handling hygiene.
“We want to keep our ready to eat foods separate from our foods that need to be cooked, our raw foods, and that way we eliminate that cross contamination,” advises Mangieri.
That means keeping hot foods hot.
“We can eliminate or kill a lot of the bacteria by making sure we cook our food to the right temperature,” she adds.
And also, keeping cold foods cold.
Make sure your refrigerator is 40 degrees or colder with produce on top and raw foods at the bottom.
One in six Americans gets food poisoning each year. That’s 48-million people.
One challenge in preventing foodborne illness is figuring out how to prioritize limited food safety resources across a large number of foods.