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Residents Urged to Take Precautions Against E Coli | Print |

Recent confirmed cases of E. coli in Georgia – five confirmed cases in the metro Atlanta area – serve as a necessary reminder about the importance of properly storing and preparing food at home and elsewhere to minimize risk.

“Paying close attention when selecting fruits and vegetables, as well as when preparing meals, can keep foodborne illnesses at bay,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Food Safety Basics for Fruits and Vegetables

  • When shopping, look for produce that is not damaged or bruised and make sure that pre-cut produce is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • Rinse all fruits and vegetables before eating. This recommendation also applies to produce with rinds or skins that are not eaten. Rinse produce just before preparing or eating to avoid premature spoilage.
  •  Clean all surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water, including cutting boards, peelers, counter tops, and knives that will touch fresh produce. Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten, under clean running water and avoid using detergents or bleach. Remove the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage before washing. Produce with firm skin, such as potatoes, may require rubbing with a vegetable brush while rinsing under clean running water to remove all soil.
  •   Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean paper towel and prepare, cook, or eat.
  • Packaged produce labeled "ready to eat," "pre-washed," or "triple washed" can be used without further washing.
  •  Keep produce separate from raw foods like meat, poultry, and seafood, in your shopping cart, grocery bags and in your refrigerator. Throw away any produce that will not be cooked if it has touched raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Do not use the same cutting board without cleaning with hot water and soap before and after preparing fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Refrigerate all cut, peeled, or cooked produce within two hours. After a certain time, harmful bacteria may grow on produce and increase the risk of foodborne illness.

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