With all the news about food recalls, are you afraid to eat?
864,000 pounds of ground beef recalled. Raw cookie dough pulled from shelves. 248,000 pounds of steak potentially contaminated. The reason: E. coli. All three cases happened in the past month alone. Now, the latest: more than 1 million pounds of salami products recalled after a salmonella scare. It's nerve wracking for many consumers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 76,000,000 cases of foodborne illness are reported every year. Most are mild and the government continues to work to keep the food supply safe. But, with recalls making headlines, it's forcing people to look for ways to be proactive. GALTime.com nutritionist and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association Elisa Zied is here with steps to lower your risk on getting sick from food:
Recently, the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a list of the 10 FDA-regulated foods that account for about 40 percent of all reported foodborne outbreaks in the U.S.. Healthful vegetables, including leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes (my personal favorite), and sprouts made the list, as did berries. Fish including tuna and oysters, and dairy products including eggs, cheese, and ice cream (more of my favorites, for sure!) rounded out the top ten. Meats such as ground beef and poultry, regulated by the USDA, are also frequent causes of foodborne illness.
The question is, what are consumers to do when they're warned that so many foods that they enjoy and commonly consume can potentially make them sick? Some might argue that consumers should simply avoid all of those foods. While that may certainly be a strategy for some to considerably lower their risk for illness, it would be difficult if not impossible to do this. Many foods (especially those you'd get at a restaurant or processed/packged foods) are made with so many different ingredients, and it's tough to know how foods or dishes are made unless you're willing to do some detective work, ask a lot of questions (of the chef, for example), or spend a lot of time reading the fine print on food packages. Many of these foods are also quite healthful---fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial substances; fish provides lean protein, and tuna is rich in healthful omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and other vital nutrients; eggs are a great source of complete protein; and low fat dairy products provide tons of calcium. Robbing your diet of these foods can make meals less satisfying and may rob you of opportunities to get many of the nutrients you need. Also, there are so many ways foods can become contaminated--for example, a food handler at a restaurant may not wash his or her hands, and food can become contaminated that way. Or, when preparing food, raw meats that contain bacteria can touch other foods (such as raw produce) which can then become contaminated. Bacteria can also live in foods that are undercooked. While many experts argue that there are too many holes in the way food is inspected and kept safe for human consumption in the U.S., baby steps that will hopefully put Americans more at ease are currently being taken. For example, the USDA and FDA recently announced they will create rules for ensuring the safety of fresh produce; spinach, hot peppers, and some other foods have been implicated in recent outbreaks of foodborne illness. So instead of subjecting yourself to a highly restrictive diet in an attempt to avoid getting sick from food, CLICK HERE for four simple and IMPORTANT tips to minimize your risk and help you eat more safely!
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