Is Your Food Safe?

December 29, 2008 2:33:41 PM PST
Diets are usually forgotten around the holidays so as you get ready for a Christmas meal you probably assume your food is safe.Heather LeCompte buys a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables for her family but now, she's extra careful.

"I mean, it makes me feel very scared that what I eat I can get sick from. So now, we're taking more precautions in our family to really clean vegetables," said LeCompte.

The CDC said food borne illnesses, many from fresh produce, sends approximately 300,000 Americans to the hospital every year. More than 5,000 die.

Now, University of Georgia Food Microbiologists may have found a way to make fresh produce safer ... a wash that kills dangerous bacteria like salmonella and e-coli in as little as one minute.

Michael Doyle, PhD said, "It's a combination of an organic acid and a detergent that when together is highly bactericidal. It kills very large numbers of harmful bacteria."

The chemicals are inexpensive and are already FDA approved for other uses. You can't taste or smell them, but researchers say together, they kill thousands more food pathogens than chlorine bleach, which is currently used. This is bacteria before treatment ... this is after.

Michael Doyle, PhD said, "If it turns out to be as good as we think it is, it will be very exciting. I think it will be a major contribution to reducing food-borne pathogen contamination in foods."

Until then, scientists say it's up to you. Be sure to wash your hands before you handle produce. Then after you've peeled it or removed outer layers ... wash your hands again with soap. Simple steps that could make your next meal, safer.

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