September 2008 Issue

Food Safety In The Produce Aisle: What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

If youíve been following the summer-long headlines about fresh produce and Salmonella contamination (see sidebar, page 4), you know that foodborne illness is serious businessófor consumers, retailers and growers alike. While you may think burgers, chicken or eggs when you hear of an outbreak, fresh produce is an increasingly common source of foodborne illness. This past summerís Salmonella outbreak, which first pointed to tomatoes, came on the heels of an outbreak in 2006 traced to E. coli in spinach. Both demonstrate the vulnerability of fresh produce to contamination, and are clear examples of how our increasing reliance on national distribution of foods means outbreaks are likely to affect people in many states. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for working with industry to keep the nationís food supply safe. But itís impossible to eliminate all problems. You, the consumer, play a key part in the food safety chain by doing everything possible to maintain the safety of food you prepare at home.

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