Once again E-coli is back in the news. This time it was found in romaine lettuce distributed by Freshway Foods. So far 23 states have been involved with a number of people being hospitalized with life-threatening symptoms. Children are the most vulnerable. Children develop kidney failure and sometimes die. If they do survive, they will probably have health problems for the rest of their lives.
A single E-coli case can be disastrous for any restaurant chain. Take the outbreak at a Jack-In-The-Box that killed several children. Even though the restaurant involved had gotten tainted meat from the supplier, the chain of restaurants was practically devastated.
They lost half of their sales overnight and had to close half of their restaurants. I myself didn’t go there for several years until I found myself working at one and discovered that they now have one of the most stringent sanitation systems of any restaurants. If you are an employee and you break just one sanitation procedure, you’re fired on the spot. They are very serious about it.
According to CNN, “In the latest food poisoning scare, Freshaway Foods says it’s voluntarily recalling certain romaine lettuce products because they may be contaminated with E. coli, bacteria that can be lethal. Most E. coli strains are harmless, but there are strains that cause severe illness. Diarrhea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses are just some of the consequences of ingesting certain kinds of the bacteria.”
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that cases of E. coli 0157, which can lead to sickness, decreased in 2009, CNN reported. But the strain in the latest outbreak is E. coli 0145, a different strain. There are about 76 million cases of food-borne disease in the United States each year, according to the CDC. During the last year there have been E. coli outbreaks in foods such as ground beef and Nestle Toll House cookie dough.”
Some ways that you can prevent E-coli is to make sure you wash your hands after handling raw meat. Wash all vegetables before you prepare them, especially if you are going to serve them raw. Thoroughly cook ground meat products like hamburger to 160 degrees internal temperature. The E-coli in steaks is mostly on the surface, so you can leave it somewhat rare.
Sometimes meat can look cooked but it isn’t. Buy a little thermometer that you can insert into the center of the meat to see if its done. Be sure to wash it off after use. I found out that a hamburger off of the grill that looks cooked and is not pink in the inside still hasn’t reached 160 degrees. I simmer mine in sauce to increase the temperature just to be sure. With E-coli, you never can be too careful.