Proper Disposal of Contaminated Foods: What to Do with Food that May Contain Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli, or Listeria

Broccoli recall Listeria contamination
If you get sick after eating food, always call the Health Department in your area first to report your illness and to see if they want to collect the food and test it.

How to properly dispose of contaminated food in the home

When a food product recall is announced, the greatest concern is ensuring that no further illnesses are caused by the contaminated product. Food is usually recalled because it has been poisoned by bacteria such as salmonella, e. coli, or listeria, which is often caused by a lack of food safety adherence.

As a consumer, you should promptly dispose of any contaminated food products that are included in the recall. How do you do this safely?

First, call your local health agency to make sure they are not interested in coming to collect the food items from your home.  If you or a family member were sickened, and tested positive for a known communicable pathogen, they may want to test it.

If the Health Department does not want you to preserve the  food for collection, se care when disposing of it.  Make sure you do not touch the contaminated food product with your bare hands. Wearing gloves or using paper towels, place the contaminated food in a sealed plastic bag and throw it in the garbage. Then you will need to sanitize your kitchen and any other area that may have come in contact with the contaminated product.

Scrub counter tops and other surfaces, including refrigerator shelves, using soap and warm water. Paper towels are preferable for cleaning these surfaces, but if you use a sponge it should also be thrown out after the cleaning is complete. Sponges are a magnet for bacteria and simply washing them off will not kill any bacteria left on them.

Warm water and soap is usually sufficient for cleaning surfaces potentially contaminated by the recalled product, but a stronger sanitizer can be made with a teaspoon of unscented bleach mixed with a quart of water. Wash the surface thoroughly with the mixture and then rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water after handling contaminated food products and after cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces.

If you cannot remember when you purchased the food product or cannot identify recall codes, return it or dispose of it anyway. If you believe you have a case of food poisoning caused by a contaminated, recalled food product, contact the food poisoning lawyers at 1-888-335-4901.




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