WASHINGTON, Nov 22 — News of another E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce in the US and Canada serves as a reminder that some foods present higher risks of food poisoning than others.
On Tuesday, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised consumers to throw out any romaine lettuce in their fridge, including pre-washed salad bags that contain any type of romaine lettuce leaves — baby romaine, spring mix and Caesar salad kits included.
The advisory was issued after 32 people in the US and at least 18 people in Canada were sickened after eating the lettuce. A similar incident involving romaine also caused an outbreak across Canada in 2017.
The latest incident serves as a reminder that some foods are riskier to eat than others. Consumers should also note that children, pregnant women, adults 65 years of age and older, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning.
Here's a look at foods that require extra vigilance, particularly among high-risk groups, according to the CDC and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
Sprouts pose a particular problem because the humid conditions required to grow them are also the ideal breeding ground for germs. The CDC advises cooking sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness.
Refrain from washing raw poultry or meat before cooking it as this will only spread bacteria to other foods, utensils and surfaces. Furthermore, washing meat won't prevent illness. Leftovers should be refrigerated at 40F (4C) or colder within two hours of preparation.
Another helpful tip ahead of the holidays: Large cuts of meat like roasts or whole turkey should be divided into small quantities before being refrigerated so that it cools in short time. Leaving meat out for too long can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Eat hard-boiled eggs within one week after cooking.
Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within three to four days.
Never leave cooked eggs or egg dishes out of the fridge for more than two hours; one hour if outside temperatures are above 90F (32C).
Raw milk and dairy products
Unpasteurised, raw milk products can carry harmful germs like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. To play it safe, the CDC recommends avoiding products made with raw milk, which often includes soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero and Queso Blanco, along with raw milk itself.
Processed meats like hot dogs and luncheon meats
They may be fully cooked, but hot dogs can still carry listeriosis. The FDA recommends reheating meat until steaming before consumption.
Raw and undercooked oysters can contain Vibrio bacteria and carry the norovirus. And contrary to popular myth, the FDA says that drowning raw oysters in hot sauce won't kill the bacteria, and that no matter how experienced they are, oyster lovers can't tell the difference between a good and bad one as Vibrio vulnificus can't be seen and has no odor or taste. — AFP-Relaxnews