AgCenter expert stresses importance of food safety

Richard Bogren  |  7/27/2018 3:19:23 PM

(07/27/18) BATON ROUGE, La. — A recent recall of processed foods brings to light the importance of food safety.

LSU AgCenter food safety expert Wenqing Xu said all food carry risks, but so much depends on how we manage the risks.

Consumers are often surprised to learn about salmonella in processed foods, she said.

“Those are the foods you wouldn’t think of having foodborne pathogens, but bacteria are opportunists and find any chance to get in our foods,” Xu said.

When salmonella is found in processed foods, all consumers can really do is pay attention to recalls, Xu said. Consumers do have the power to keep their meat and fresh produce safe.She stressed the importance of cleaning, cooking, separating and chilling foods.

Wash fresh produce before consuming and keep hands, utensil, cutting boards and kitchen surfaces clean. Cook meats to required temperatures, and use a meat thermometer. Separate cooked foods or ready-to-eat foods from raw foods and refrigerate foods promptly after preparation or meals.

A common kitchen mistake is washing raw poultry, fish or meat before cooking. “This increases the risk of cross contamination,” Xu said.

The symptoms of salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, fever, chills, vomiting and diarrhea.

Cases of salmonella are underreported, Xu said, recommending reporting potential infections to the Louisiana Department of Health, which can help with data collection and show if an outbreak is occurring.

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