You decide to take better care of yourself and eat a healthier diet. You load your refrigerator with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, only to hear about a recall on contaminated romaine lettuce. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, romaine lettuce is not the only food in your refrigerator that can potentially make you sick. Some of the most common sources of foodborne illness include fresh fruit and vegetables contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria. In fact, nearly half of foodborne illnesses in the United States are caused by bacteria on fresh produce.
Leafy greens such as iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce, escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula and chard account for 24 percent of all foodborne illness. And, freshly cut watermelon, honeydew melon and cantaloupe have all been associated with Salmonella and Listeria outbreaks. Listeria bacteria can grow on the rind of melons and spread to the flesh.
Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries have been linked to food poisoning due to harmful viruses and bacteria, particularly the hepatitis A virus. Tomatoes of all varieties have been repeatedly linked to foodborne illnesses. The most common bacteria associated with tomatoes is Salmonella, which can enter tomato plants through cracks in the skin.
Raw sprouts of all kinds—including alfalfa, sunflower, mung bean and clover sprouts—are continually associated with Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli outbreaks. Sprouts should be cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness.
So, given all of this should you empty your refrigerator and forget about eating healthy? Of course not! A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides essential nutrients that can lower blood pressure, help protect you from heart disease and stroke, prevent some cancers and even promote weight loss.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides the following tips to help you enjoy your favorite…