How To Protect Yourself From E. Coli
E.Coli related illness has become increasingly reported in the past 10 years, with thousands of people hospitalized from consuming contaminated food, some resulting in death. E. Coli bacteria can be found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. Often, the spread of harmful E. Coli bacteria is through contact with feces. There are many different strains of the E.Coli bacteria, and most are harmless. Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli causes serious infection with a variety of nasty symptoms, including abdominal cramping and pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. With the increased amounts of deaths it now more important than ever to be vigilant in protecting yourself. So, here are the best things you can do to protect yourself.
Wash Your Hands
E. Coli can transferred through small amounts of feces, so washing your hands is especially necessary when you use the restroom, change a diaper, interact with animals, or clean your home. This should be your first line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself.
Avoid Unpasteurized Juices and Dairy
Raw juices, dairy, and even raw water, are all the rage nowadays, with people swearing by their healthy properties. However, it’s probably in your best interest to stay away from these, as they haven’t been treated for harmful contaminants. If the E. Coli bacteria contaminates the product, you put yourself at risk of consuming E. Coli.
Cook Your Meat Thoroughly
When cooking any type of meat, make sure to use a thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the meat is at least 160 degrees fahrenheit. This will ensure no bacteria that could possibly be contained within the meat is alive when you go to eat it.
Store Your Fruits and Veggies Properly
Always store any fruits and veggies away from uncooked meat to prevent contamination. Proper food storage is required by restaurants and food distributers, but is not always followed. Improper food can expose harmful bacteria to ready to eat food, causing E. Coli outbreaks, and widespread illness.
Wash Your Produce
Oftentimes, crop farms and animal farms are in close proximity to each other, exposing produce to harmful bacteria. It is very important to wash all produce whether or not it is organic. Use a veggie brush to ensure the produce is washed thoroughly.
Use Separate Cutting Boards
When cutting meat, stick to all plastic cutting boards instead of wood. Wood cutting boards are pourus and can sometimes retain liquid and bacteria even after washing thoroughly. Keep a separate cutting board for your meats, produce, and fish, to avoid any cross-contamination.
Be Careful When Swimming
Be sure to not accidentally consume any pool, lake, or ocean water. These bodies of water could harbor E. Coli bacteria.
Stay Up-To-Date With Reported Outbreaks
Be aware of any publicly identified outbreaks happening around the country. Avoid any ingredients or chains that have been identified as becoming contaminated with E. Coli bacteria. While it may not be happening in your area, a company may use a distributor for locations nation-wide, so it is best to wait until the outbreak subsides.