Avoiding Salmonella Contamination in the Midst of an International Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak
When consumers pick out produce at aa local grocery store, most like to think that it came from a healthy farm that uses safe and sustainable farming practices that include what are known as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Not so. Consumers buy food not only for its great taste, but for its nutritional value. So, how can the average consumer know that the food they buy is going to be good for them? Is it enough to just assume that our food is being grown, harvested, transported, and stored in clean and healthy environments? With the recent Red Onion Salmonella outbreak caused by contaminated onions, there is no better time than now to start looking into where food is coming from.
Produce can become contaminated through a variety of farming malpractices. An alarmingly high number of people have been infected by Salmonella due to such negligence –sometimes with domestic produce, but more and more with imported foods. While it may feel out of the grasp of the average consumer to stop this negligence, they can at least control which foods they buy, and where we buy from – many other countries, especially third-world countries, do not enforce GMPs or have high standards (much less pay) for workers’ hygiene and safe practices. In some growing regions, internationally, there are no outhouses of restroom facilities for the harvesters. And Salmonella, like other bacteria, is primarily spread through fecal-oral transmission.
One important step is to check the labels on all produce and do some research on the companies, countries, regions or farms that produced it. It is important to know which have a track record for contaminated food or poor farming practices.
Consumers should also be mindful of their own practices – although these non-commercial practices are not likely to cause an outbreak, they may help consumers avoid poisoning their own families and prevent sickness in the home. Washing produce before cutting, peeling, or eating it, as well as washing any utensils that come into contact with it, are a couple of important measures to take in avoiding an infection from Salmonella. Another good practice to keep in mind is keeping produce that is not going to be cooked away from raw meats, cook foods at a temperature that will kill germs, and always keep perishables refrigerated.
One national salmonella lawyer, Ron Simon, stated in an interview: “It’s always good to remember the four easy steps as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These are Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill.”
Don’t let the negligence of someone else get the best of you. Researching where your foods come from, how they are grown, harvested, transported, and stored, and keeping your own practices in mind, are all important to maintaining the health and safety of you and your loved ones.