Cyclospora, a parasite that causes gastrointestinal illness, has sickened more than 400 people in 16 states, reports the New York Times.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has traced the outbreak of cyclospora to Taylor Farms de Mexico, the source of some of the parasite-infested salads served at Red Lobster and Olive Garden that have caused so much misery for so many people.
However, the FDA has not yet traced lettuce sold in stores that has sickened people. So what can you do to avoid this parasite on your food?
Food Safety: Don’t Get Sick
The FDA estimates that more than 48 million people get sick every year from the food they eat.
Handle and cook animal products like meat and poultry with extreme care to avoid illnesses.
Produce, like lettuce in the contaminated salads, can also be a problem, so wash and clean it thoroughly before you eat it.
According to the FDA, spinach, tomatoes, and lettuce are tied to many of the large outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in the United States, such as this cyclospora outbreak, so don’t forget to wash everything before you eat it.
Fruits and vegetables can become contaminated during growing or through handling. When fruits and vegetables are being grown, they can be contaminated from animal waste, harmful substances that are in the soil or water, or by poor hand hygiene from workers in the field.
Once the produce is harvested, the fruits and vegetables can be handled by many people, which increases the contamination risk. Once you get your fruits and vegetables home, you can even put unfriendly substances on them yourself, if you don’t wash your hands, or if you don’t wash and store the produce properly.