The E-coli outbreak traced to the Yuma, Arizona, growing area has resulted in at least 121 infections in 25 states. Fifty-two people have been hospitalized; fourteen have suffered kidney failure and at least one has died. The bad news is the fact that it takes several days for an individual to get sick and several more for the illness to be reported. So, there could be more victims in the next few weeks. The good news is that the growing season in the Yuma area is over. The romaine available in stores and restaurants is now being shipped from other locales.
Unlike food that you cook, there is no kill-step in preparing fresh salads. That’s why the culprit of food borne illness is often fresh produce. We are fond of the prepackaged, triple-washed , ready-to-eat salads; but Microbiologist Michele Jay-Russell, a food-safety expert at U C Davis points out that if the prewashed greens have been infected, it is next to impossible to wash off bacteria at home. Well, isn’t that why you spend the extra money for prewashed greens? So you don’t need to wash them at home? I guess it’s good to know that further washing is pointless. She did say, “Most of the time, they’re fine.” Now, I feel better.