Alinked to peaches, plums and nectarines has sickened 11 people in seven states and one person has died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States each year.
For Meghan Elarde, a case of food poisoning made her a cautious consumer.
“I got seriously ill. It was scary,” she told CBS News.
She said the experience led her to become “much more concerned” about her shopping. Now she buys hydroponic lettuce – leaves that grow in water rather than soil – at Tom’s Market in Warrenville, Illinois.
“I buy it because it’s grown in a controlled environment,” she said. “I like it. There are no pesticides added. There aren’t a million people touching it and handling it.”
Elarde used to buy bagged lettuce which, along with other leafy greens, is number one on Consumer Reports’ list of 10 recalled foods at risk due to the number of illnesses, outbreaks and reminders to which they were linked.
“Bagged lettuce has gone through many stages before it gets to you,” Sana Mujahid, a food microbiologist and director of food safety at Consumer Reports, told CBS News. “It’s grown in a field. It goes through a processing plant. It’s cut up. It’s bagged. So there’s a lot of risk of contamination.”
The same applies to pre-cut fruit, which is why Mujahid recommends buying whole fruit and cutting it yourself.
Cheese and cured meats, ground beef, onions, turkey, chicken, papaya, peaches, melon and flour were also on Consumer Reports’ list of at-risk foods.
If the rind of a melon comes into contact with contaminated irrigation water, once cut, it can transfer to the fruit. Experts advise avoiding onions and bruised produce because bacteria can enter and cause gastrointestinal problems, which can be serious for immunocompromised people.
More than 3,000 people die from foodborne illnesses each year, according to the CDC.
Experts say it’s also important to be aware of recalls and prepare your food carefully.
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