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4 Steps to Protect Your Kitchen against E. Coli

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center page and our Factory Farming & Food Safety page.

The meat industry likes to say that factory farms are modern, efficient and produce cheap food. But in reality, factory farms increase the risk of pathogens like E. coli and salmonella that cause food-borne illness in people.

You might be surprised to find out, in this quiz from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the high percentage of supermarket chicken that has E. coli.

The bacteria is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms and, when people eat food contaminated with E. coli, they can develop diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia and other illnesses.

You can guard against food-borne illnesses by making sure your food handling practices at home are effective. Here's a list from the U.S Food and Drug Administration of four steps to food safety in your kitchen:      

1. Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and food.

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets. 
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food. 
  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine. 
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. 
  • Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. 
  • Clean canned goods lids before opening.       


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