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Prepackaged salad mix sickens hundreds of consumers

30Some of the healthiest, fittest people in the country live in Southern California. Many California residents go to the gym, watch their weight and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Contaminated Bagged Salad Mix

But what if that healthy salad you just ate is contaminated? That’s what happened recently in Nebraska and Iowa, where food safety officials have traced an outbreak of the intestinal illness cyclospora to a packaged blend of lettuce, cabbage and carrots. The bags that the salad mix came in boasted that the greens had been prewashed, giving consumers an extra measure of false confidence in the product. An additional 122 cases of cyclospora were reported in Texas, where authorities are still trying to pinpoint the source of the disease.

Food Safety Tips

Federal food safety experts recommend that you follow these steps to avoid foodborne illness from fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh food.
  • Cut off and discard bruised sections of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Wash produce thoroughly under running water before eating it — even if the bag says it has been prewashed.
  • Even such fruit as bananas and cantaloupe, where you don’t eat the skin, should be washed. A knife used for slicing watermelon can carry bacteria from the outer rind into the edible flesh of the fruit.
  • Drying produce with a clean paper towel or kitchen towel can remove traces of bacteria that remain after washing.
  • Keep your refrigerator clean, and store perishables at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Know your sources. Buy local produce at a farmer’s market whenever possible, and ask the vendors about their food handling procedures.

If something you ate made you sick, TorkLaw’s lawyers and legal specialists can advise you about your legal rights.