HOW TO AVOID E.COLI WHEN PREPARING SALADS



Much has been in the news recently regarding the risk of catching a killer strain of E.Coli bacterial through eating salad crops such as bean sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. But what is the truth behind the killer strain of E.coli and salads and what can you do to stop yourself from catching it?

E coli is a bacterium that can cause deadly food poisoning in humans. The E coli bacteria are found in the gut of animals and are most often transmitted by faecal waste coming into contact with meat. Because of the transmission method, meat products can be made safe by thorough cooking.

E coli is normally on the surface of the meat and therefore items such as steaks are usually safe to eat as long as the outer surface of the meat has been cooked. With items such as hamburgers, where meat has been minced, it is important to ensure that the burger is well cooked throughout the hamburger patty, ensuring that no ground up surface meat containing the bacteria can cause infection.

Unfortunately there have been some E Coli outbreaks which have associated with contaminated vegetables and salads. In the case of salads, which are normally eaten raw, it is impossible to kill the E coli bacteria by just washing with water. The best way to prevent E coli infection in salads is to soak salad vegetables in a sterilising fluid solution (one that is normally used for sterilising babies’ bottles). Milton is one of the best know brands for producing sterilizing solutions, however generic brands can be found at supermarkets and pharmacies. Once you have made up your solution, soak your salad item for 15 – 20 mins (refer to the instructions on your packet) and then rinse. The sterilizing solution should ensure that any surface bacteria are killed, and there should be no unpleasant aftertaste.

There has also been some controversy over organic salad produce. Organic farmers often use animal waste fertilizer, as this is considered more natural for the environment. However, some would argue that animal waste increases the chance of vegetables being contaminated with E coli bacteria, and therefore extra care should be taken when preparing organic vegetables and salad.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO AVOID E.COLI WHEN PREPARING SALADS
SALAD CROPS FOR LATE SUMMER/AUTUMN PLANTING
WHAT IS E.COLI?
WHICH SALAD CROP SEEDS CAN BE SOWN IN AUGUST?

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