Monday, February 18, 2013

Top 4 Health Tips: Keep your fruits and veggies safe

An apple a day will keep the doctor away … but only if you clean it first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 23 percent of all food-borne illnesses are caused by contaminated vegetables. That's 2.2 million out of 9.6 million reported cases. And produce foods — which include vegetables, fruits and nuts — sicken 4.4 million people a year.

Scary stuff. Here are ways from Women's Health magazine, published by Rodale, to help you take precautions to lower the number of harmful microbes that could be present.


1 Fruits and vegetables with bruises, cuts and nicks have a greater risk of being contaminated with a food-borne illness. Make sure you inspect every surface of produce you intend to buy beforehand so that you don't contaminate other foods in your shopping cart.


2 It's tempting to sneak a few grapes between shopping aisles, but hold off until you're home. Most of the harmful bacteria are on the outer skins of produce. For bananas and oranges, peeling the outer layers will leave you with safe food on the inside — just make sure your hands are clean. For other foods, a minute of thorough rinsing will reduce potentially dangerous bacteria.


3 You may prefer your veggies raw, but washing them is only half the battle. Cook vegetables at 160 degrees Fahrenheit will kill most of the harmful microbes. Boiling and steaming will get the job done, but if you're grilling, heat the outer surfaces well.


4 Don't let your food sit in your fridge uncovered. Store food in closed plastic containers or cover with plastic wrap and cool them in a temperature of at least 38 degrees. Vegetables last three or four days, so be sure to eat them in that time frame. Keep these closed foods away from raw meat on a separate shelf or compartment so juices won't drip on them.