Each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) gets sick from food poisoning. That includes 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to Center of Disease Control estimates. The new report is the most comprehensive CDC has produced on sources of food poisoning, covering the years 1998 through 2008.
What was significant was the role fruits and vegetables played in food poisonings. About 1 in 5 illnesses were linked to leafy green vegetables — more than any other type of food. Many of the vegetable-related illnesses come from norovirus, which is often spread by cooks and food handlers. So contamination sometimes has more to do with the kitchen or restaurant it came from then the food itself.
Earlier this month, the FDA released a proposed new rule for produce safety that would set new hygiene standards for farm workers and for trying to reduce contact with animal waste and dirty water.
Also, while vegetable-related illnesses were more common, the largest proportion of food borne illness deaths were due to poultry.
Be sure to wash all produce, especially leafy greens like lettuce and spinach. Here are some basic rules to follow when washing spinach:
- Like all greens, spinach should be washed as soon as you buy it. Loose spinach can be very gritty due to its crinkly leaves trapping soil and sand, so it must be thoroughly rinsed.
- The best way to wash spinach is to put it into a sink or large container of cold water.
- Remove stems by twisting or cutting spinach leaves off just above stem line and immerse in water.
- Swish leaves around, then let them stand for a few minutes while dirt sinks to the bottom.
- Thoroughly dry by using a salad spinner or by blotting with paper towels.
- Wrap in dry paper towels and seal in a plastic bag for storage.
For great spinach recipes, please see http://www.food.com.