Experts remind of proper food handling amid outbreak from bagged - WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Experts remind of proper food handling amid outbreak from bagged salad

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(WMC-TV) - The centers for disease control and prevention reported a prepackaged salad mix is the source of a stomach bug outbreak that sickened more than 150 people in Iowa and Nebraska.

Health officials say the salad was infected with a rare parasite. Store employees have since pulled the bagged salads from the shelves.

So far the CDC has not reported the salad mixes were found in the Mid-South, and no cases of cyclospora have been reported as of Wednesday.

"We teach healthy cooking classes to children adults and teenagers," said nutrition and education coordinator Carolyn Nichols.

The classes include valuable knowledge that Nichols says starts with preparing food and produce.

"If you think about it you don't know how long it's been since it's been picked. All the way to your house," she said.

Whether it is packaged lettuce, fruit or other vegetables she says before any of it hits a consumers mouth it should hit the sink.

She says this lesson has become more valuable in the last few weeks after more than 300 people, from 15 states have reported an outbreak of the cyclospora, which is an intestinal disease caused by a microscopic parasite.

The FDA believes some of those sicknesses may be linked to a salad mix containing iceburg and romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage. Even if your package says washed and ready to eat, experts say you should still wash for at least 30 seconds. Wash it in cold water after you have washed your hands and your sink.

Nichols says this cleaning method goes beyond packaged lettuce and should be applied to all produce.

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