Time to throw out this lettuce again, it could threaten your health

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romaine-lettuce

(NaturalHealth365) This kind of news is happening so often, it’s probably not surprising to you.  But, for many people, it’s time to throw out all your lettuce (again!) after a recent announcement – right before the holidays – that another lot of romaine lettuce may be contaminated with a potentially deadly strain of E. coli bacteria.

Once again, you’re left tossing out your lettuce, sanitizing your produce drawer, and thinking about all the money you’ve throw in the trash due to so many “romaine lettuce scares.”

Conventionally speaking, it’s not entirely clear why this continues to happen, and as agriculture experts continue to try to figure out why romaine lettuce gets contaminated and how they can prevent further issues, the Washington Post reports that these problems continue to devastate the growers.  Bottom line: as a conscientious consumer, it’s so important to understand how E. coli can trigger dangerous infections and, more importantly, the best steps to take to protect yourself from harm.

How E. coli bacteria can cause unwanted infections

Although many forms of E. coli are actually harmless, the types that aren’t may result in life-threatening, severe diarrhea. So how do these bacteria cause such dangerous infections?

The bacteria cause intestinal cells to create small structures known as “actin pedestals.”  These pedestals anchor pathogens in place, helping these bacteria colonies to grow.

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E. coli injects a host with various proteins, and recently they discovered that if they can prevent the injection of the protein EspG into the intestines, the bacteria had a tougher time creating those pedestals that fix E. coli bacteria in place. These findings not only help shed light on the mechanics of this infection, but may also lead researchers to find new avenues of treatment.

Find out how to protect yourself from a serious E. coli infection

Beyond regularly tossing your romaine lettuce when you find out it’s contaminated again, what can you do to protect yourself from E. coli infections and the resulting food poisoning?

Here are several steps you can take:

  • Wash your hands regularly: You should be washing your hands after using the restroom, changing diapers, before and after you prepare food, and after contact with animals and their environments.
  • Ensure meats are cooked thoroughly: Check the recommended cooking guidelines for meats to ensure you’re cooking your meat to a safe internal temperature.
  • Wash veggies and fruits: Unless your veggies and fruits say they’ve been “prewashed,” be sure to wash them under running water to eliminate bacteria.
  • Know your source of “unpasteurized” products:  Although the risk is low, be careful where you purchase unpasteurized dairy products – especially raw milk.
  • Prevent cross-contamination: In your food prep areas, but sure to take measures to prevent cross-contamination. Wash cutting boards, counters, utensils, and hands thoroughly after touching raw meat.
  • Choose local (organic) food sources: Consider going to a local farmer’s markets or co-op  – instead of purchasing from large grocery chains, where it can be difficult to tell where your product actually came from.

Sources for this article include:

WashingtonPost.com
ScienceDaily.com
CDC.gov