Preventing supermarket germs

Four grocery shopping tips to help keep you and your family safe from foodborne illness.

Most people are relatively safe from the everyday germs commonly found in the supermarket, often contracted through food items. Others are at increased risk for getting sick from these common germs. What makes you at risk of getting sick? People over age 65, young children under age 5 and those who have weakened immune systems are more likely to be stricken with foodborne illness.

Grocery stores expose us to all kinds of potential infections like salmonella, E.coli and listeria, just to name a few. Think about how many people you see in the market touching the produce, then multiply that by the number of hours the market is open.

Research from Michigan State University, reported in the Journal of Environmental Health, found that only five percent of people wash their hands long enough to destroy infectious germs after using the bathroom. They also discovered that 10 percent skipped washing their hands altogether and 33 percent did not use soap!
Michigan State University Extension offers four simple tips to help you protect yourself.

  1. Keep your hands away from your face. You are touching food items that maybe 20 to 30 others have touched, some bacteria may end up on your hands. Wash your hands or at least use a hand sanitizer as soon as it is convenient to do so.
  1. Packages of meat that are leaking juices are also spreading the possibility of foodborne illness. Put meats in the plastic bags the grocery store provides. This will prevent fresh meat, fish and poultry from contaminating other foods in the grocery cart.
  2. Put fresh meats in the bottom of the cart where they can’t leak on other foods and refrigerate all perishable foods right away when returning home.
  3. Be sure that you wash the outside of all fresh produce before eating it. Remember how many hands could have already touched it. Wash and rinse your fresh fruit and vegetables using a soft brush or cloth if possible and then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Taking a few precautions can make a big difference in your and your family’s health.

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