Tuesday, November 1, 2011

E coli O104 Outbreak Spreads from Europe to USA: Confirmed Victims in Tennessee and Virginia - Tips for South Florida to Avoid Exposure

There is a dangerous bacteria killing people in Europe, and now the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that it's already been found in the states of Tennessee and Virginia. It's being called "E coli O0104" and we need to be ready for it here in South Florida.

Over in Germany, the World Health Organization is reporting that locating the source of the bacteria may not happen because they are running out of time: is it vegetables, is it meat? There doesn't seem to be a common thread running between the victims (not everyone ate the same thing, swam in the same lake, etc.).

In May 2011, the FDA reported USA was safe: now Tennessee and Virginia have been hit with European E. coli strain

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement on the E. coli O104 outbreak in Europe, and there should be more coming from the FDA very soon.

From the FDA, we know that:
  • consumers in Germany have been warned to avoid raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.
  • as of the date of this first release, the FDA believed that this outbreak had not affected the U.S. food supply.
  • the U.S. receives relatively little fresh produce from the EU, due to the short shelf life of most fresh produce and the availability of closer growing areas in the U.S. and Central America.
  • in May, the FDA established additional import controls to protect against E coli O104, including increased surveillance of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and raw salads from areas of concern.
Miami - Here's What You Should Do Now To Protect Against E coli O104 Bacteria Outbreak
The Food and Drug Administration recommends the following when dealing with raw fruits and vegetables:
  1. When preparing any fresh produce, begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparation.
  2. Wash the produce under running water just before preparing or eating. This includes produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or produce that is purchased from a grocery store or farmer's market.
  3. Proper storage of fresh produce can affect both quality and safety. Certain perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) can be best maintained by storing in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below. If you're not sure whether an item should be refrigerated to maintain quality, ask your grocer.
  4. All produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated to maintain both quality and safety.
  5. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  6. Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There's no need to use soap or a produce wash.
  7. Wash produce BEFORE you peel it, so dirt and bacteria aren't transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.
  8. Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
  9. Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
  10. Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.

By Bryant Esquenazi on June 7, 2011 10:34 AM

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