Ongoing Investigation on an unsolved E. coli Outbreak
According to the CDC, an unknown, contaminated source of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) O103 has infected 96 people in a multistate outbreak from March 2, 2019, to March 26, 2019. Eleven people have been hospitalized. The investigation is ongoing, for investigators have yet to determine the specific source of the outbreak (CDC).
Outbreaks can come from a range of sources— a specific food item at a grocery store, a restaurant chain, or a manufacturer. Within the distribution chain of farm-to-fork, there are plenty of opportunities for foodborne pathogens to contaminate a product. When cases like this recent E. coli outbreak are still ongoing investigations, here are some things to stay safe at home:
- Rearrange your fridge. Make sure raw meats are separate from ready-to-eat food items like fruit and pre-washed produce. This technique is essential to keep in mind at the grocery store, too. In the shopping cart, keep meats and ready-to-eat foods separate.
- Wash your hands. According to a statistic from the CDC, soap and running, warm water “reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%” (CDC).
- Cook your food. If this source is linked to a meat product, you are going to want to make sure all of your meats are fully cooked to minimize the risk of getting an infection from E. coli. Get a meat thermometer. They are as cheap as $10 on Amazon.
- Reheat leftovers to 165 ˚F. If you are microwaving leftovers, make sure to reheat them thoroughly to kill any bacteria that has grown since the food was last thoroughly heated.
- Clean. Yes. Clean your counters by wiping them down and keeping them dry. Avoid letting dirty dishes pile up in the sink. Wipe up any fluids that may have leaked from packaged meats immediately, even if they’re in the fridge.