E. Coli in Walnuts

picture of walnuts - e. coli in walnuts

Walnuts

Another Case of E. Coli in Walnuts

It has happened again.  There has been another case of E. Coli in walnuts. Walnuts are being recalled in Canada.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/09/07/toronto-walnut-recall.html

I’ve blogged about E. coli and specifically walnut contamination in the past.  With this latest recall, it might be good to repeat some of the basics…

So How Does E. Coli Get On Walnuts?

  • Contamination can occur in the field through the use of improperly composted manure.
  • The bacteria can spread in contaminated water.
  • E-coli is most ofter spread person-to-person. Poor hygiene of workers processing/handling food can also spread the bacteria.

Four Ways to Stop E. Coli:

  1. Sanitize:
    • Before handling foods, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
    • Ensure counter-tops and utensils are clean and sanitized.
    • Wash raw fruits and vegetables under clean running water.
  2. Chill:
    • To slow bacteria growth, keep cold food below 4°C (40°F).
    • Freezing (below -18°C or 0°F) food can stop bacteria growth completely but it won’t kill the bacteria. Only proper cooking can kill the bacteria.
  3. Separate:
    • Don’t cross contaminate! Make sure the juices from raw meat do not touch any other foods.
    • If plates or utensils are used for raw meats, they should not be used with cooked or ready to eat foods.
  4. Cook:
    • Cooking meat to a safe internal temperature destroys e. coli bacteria.
    • The safe internal temperature depends on what you are cooking. Refer to this chart.
    • You cannot judge the temperature by colour, look or feel!
    • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food.

As a general rule of thumb, cooking to 165°F should be enough to kill the bacteria.

If you found this post useful, or if you have any thoughts on food contamination, please leave a comment.

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