Ever been to a restaurant with a salad bar or buffet that looks so tempting but you couldn’t get over your fears after hearing so many horror stories about buffets and salad bars in particular?
The latest case involving salad involved 514 people who fell ill from Cyclospora since June across 17 states across the USA, according to the US Centres for Disease Control. The infections were linked to a few very popular American chain restaurants and some of the diners who were infected are suing the restaurants. From the people who fell ill, 30 of them had to be hospitalised.
The following excerpt from Foodsafetynews.com explains:
The case count by state is now as follows:
Arkansas (5 cases), Connecticut (1), Florida (27), Georgia (4), Illinois (9), Iowa (153), Kansas (3), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (1), Missouri (3), Nebraska (79), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1), New York (6), Ohio (2), Texas (206) and Wisconsin (10).
While the 232 illnesses in Iowa and Nebraska are known to be from salads served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, investigators have not determined a definitive source for the illnesses in other states, including the 206 ill in Texas.
The article goes on to explain that Cyclospora is a single celled parasite which is most often linked to contaminated fresh produce, which explains its association with salads. Some of the symptoms of infection include watery diarrhoea, vomiting, fatigue, nausea and stomach cramps.
Prepared salads like coleslaws, pasta salads and rice salads and prepared fruit salads pose a particular risk which eaters should be weary of. The germs responsible for these illnesses attributed to leafy vegetables commonly include E. coli and Norovirus.
But how exactly does bacterium get onto fresh produce? Bacteria can get onto fruit and vegetables in several ways. They may be present in water used for irrigation, organic fertilisers and droppings from birds and other animals that go into fields.
It is important to wash all fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure they are clean and safe to eat.
Most people are aware of the importance of handling meat safely, but many consider the risk of food poisoning from vegetables to be low, this is a mistake.
Washing will help to remove bacteria including E.coli from the surface of fruit and vegetables.
Most of the bacteria will be in the soil attached to the produce. Washing to remove any soil is, therefore, particularly important.
When washing fruit and vegetables don’t just hold them under the running tap, rub them under water, for example in a bowl of fresh water. Start with the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse.
Washing loose produce such as lettuce is particularly important as it tends to have more soil attached to it than pre-packaged fruit and vegetables.
Peeling and/or cooking fruit and vegetables can also remove bacteria.