Food recalls, contamination at home, and what you can do about it.
How do we safely get food on our table? Food recalls seem to be commonplace these days with flour and, now, even some ice cream. Admittedly, it kind of scares me as to how food is handled. It would be nice if we could all grow our own food, make our own bread from the wheat plant, ice cream from fresh milk, and even churn our own butter. However, and not surprisingly, most of us don’t have the time or the ability to do these things. Thus we are grateful for the modern conveniences of the grocery store, and the prepared foods it can provide. But with these conveniences there are health risks that we have to be aware of. Then again, when even making/preparing foods at home there can be health risks with cleanliness, storage, and cross contamination.
In the past, and most certainly the future to come, we have food recalls because of risks from E. coli, listeria, and hepatitis c just to name a few. And these recalls have not always been on manufactured foods, no. Just several years ago spinach was being recalled. Not to mention the issues that Chipotle, or other restaurants, have had with Norovirus, and it is not uncommon to hear of cruise ships having similar outbreaks.
So it comes down to the question I posed earlier: how do we safely get food on our table? I don’t know the answer there, but there are things that we can do to help lower our risks of illness from foods. You can buy local and fresh, to start, while making sure you thoroughly wash and dry produce. I even recommend that people wash the “pre-washed” products as I am not sure what they are washing the items in (nor what was in the package to begin with, for that matter). When cooking foods, especially meats, make sure you get them into the right temperature zone for that specific meat (I know what you’re probably thinking there as my, now vegetarian, husband can attest that sometimes that takes a lot of the flavor/quality out of the cut of meat, unfortunately). Also with cold foods you should make sure that they stay cold. And before you start, and while you are, cooking make sure you wash your hands and utensils while paying attention to possible cross contamination.
As far as eating at restaurants goes, well you have to hope that they are following health codes, and using safe handling practices. I often avoid buffets as I don’t know how long the food items have been sitting out, who else has touched the utensils, or even sneezed on the food. Caveat emptor, I guess.
The people that are most affected by tainted foods are going to be young children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems. However, most of us are going to get food poisoning at one point or another, and we will largely be perfectly fine afterwards.
When it comes to food, a little bit of common sense will go a long way to keep yourself and your family safe. Keep your eye out for the recalls while also double, and triple, checking to make sure you don’t have any of the products. The FDA’s recall website is a bare minimum place to start. You can always contact your most frequently visited stores for any updated information. Be vigilant. If not for you then for your family and friends.