jueves, 23 de enero de 2014

The latest on Listeria: Five foods most likely to be contaminated

Five foods that can become contaminated and how to use them safely

1. Canned and raw seafood.
When the FDA conducted a safety test of many types of food for Listeria, the type that tested highest might come as a surprise to most people given the lack of press: smoked seafood. Of the 7,855 samples tested, 12.9 percent contained listeria. Preserved fish also tested high, as did raw seafood. Knowing this, I can tell you I’ll only be buying my smoked salmon and canned smoked oysters from reputable companies, and I’ll be throwing salmon into pasta and other dishes rather than eating it cold on bagels. 
2. Fruits of all kinds
Cantaloupes can pick up the Listeria bacteria, as can other melons, but so can any fruit that’s sprayed or washed with water containing listeria picked up from the soil. According to an FDA risk assessment for Listeria, more than 11 percent of all fruits sampled tested positive for listeria. But here’s the thing to remember, the Listeria is on the outside of the fruit – it doesn’t spread throughout the flesh. So it’s not going to help to avoid certain types of fruits — the damage to your diet and health would far outweigh the potential safety benefits, statistically speaking. What to do?  Wash fruit as soon as you buy it with an antibacterial fruit and vegetable wash or, in a pinch, with antibacterial dish soap. Wash it again before you eat it, or better yet, peel it. But wash it even if you do peel it.
3. Foods that are refrigerated for long periods of time.
Listeria — unlike most types of bacteria, it can continue to grow under refrigeration. Refrigerating food does not prevent the growth of Listeria once it’s introduced. Cooking at high heat does kill Listeria, so ready-to-eat foods that are eaten without cooking are a potential source. Cheese is one of these, but interestingly soft ripened cheese and semi-soft cheese tested higher than hard cheeses. One solution is to put cheese into cooked dishes, but if you like your cheese sandwiches, there’s not a lot to be done.
4. Preserved and smoked meats.
Hot dogs, sausages, salami and all manner of preserved meats eaten cold are potential Listeria culprits, according to the FDA. The sampling procedure found Listeria in 6.4 percent of sausage samples, 4.8 percent of hot dogs sampled, and 6.5 percent of pâtes and meat spreads.
5. Root vegetables and ground-grown vegetables like squash

Vegetables that grow in the soil, like beets, carrots, and potatoes can come in contact with Listeria in the soil, as can those that grow on low-lying vines like zucchini and other types of squash. But please don’t let fear lead you to avoid veggies, which are healthiest foods in your diet. Instead, wash all veggies thoroughly and peel wherever appropriate. But wash before and after you peel, too — just peeling doesn’t cut it because the bacteria could be transferred on your hands.

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