With the recent Listeria bacteria scare that’s still ongoing, many of my patients have asked me how they can really protect themselves against a foodborne illness. It’s true; people bought and ate infected cantaloupes that, by all intents and purposes, didn’t look to be tainted.
How can you be sure that any raw fruit and vegetables you eat are really safe to eat even if they look perfectly fine? The answer is you can’t. Let me share with you, however, the things you can do to lower your risk of getting sick from fruits and vegetables.
Stay Healthy, Use Safe Practices With Produce
Dangerous, health-threatening bacteria can get into fruits and vegetables both from the soil they’re grown in, or contaminated water near where they are growing, to the way in which they are handled during their harvesting and shipping to grocers around the country. In addition, once we get produce in our homes, we can unwittingly infect them with bacteria just by preparing them incorrectly.
Though we cannot know who, or how they, handled our produce before it got to our grocery store, there are some things we can look for that might give us a clue that the produce may be bad and we shouldn’t buy it:
When you get produce home, there are several things the US Department of Agriculture recommends you to do:
Produce with Special Concerns
Though all produce can have a problem with bacteria, certain types of produce may be more prone to problems such as:
Raw fruits and vegetables are full of healthy vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants and I always advise my patients to eat more of them whenever possible. Steaming is a good alternative to water boiling that can kill bacteria without destroying valuable nutrients. Just be sure to buy, handle and store your produce carefully.