Summertime is when we should be on high alert against E. coli, which produces a deadly toxin and can cause violent reactions, kidney damage, even death. The reason this is associated with summer is because this is the time of year for outdoor grilling, picnics, and more people eating raw fruits and vegetables.
All of these activities increase the risk of consuming food containing bacteria. The good news is, if we are vigilant, we can largely protect ourselves against E. coli.
A primary source for E. coli to enter our bodies is through undercooked meat. Therefore, after you have been handling raw meat, make sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water, being sure to lather for at least 20 seconds.
Next, make sure to cook your meat well. Although many of us love our burgers red in the middle, it's safest to cook them until they are entirely brown. When cooking chicken, make sure it's white inside, not pink.
E. coli has also been found on raw fruits and vegetables, so wash them well, even using a bit of soap. You can take it a step further by cooking your vegetables, or blanching them, which means to dunk them in boiling water for a minute or two. Blanching kills the bacteria, but still maintains much of the freshness and crunch we love.
Don't have a false sense of security when eating out. Health experts say in general, national food chains do a better job of cooking meat thoroughly than mom-and-pop restaurants. Although supporting local business is such a great thing to do, so just use your good common sense. Order your meat well-done.
Lastly, keep your eye on the news. If health officials determine the source of an E. coli outbreak, you 'll want to make sure you don't have any of it in your kitchen at home.