Have You Ever Wondered

. . . how to handle sprouts for food safety? Sprouts tend to harbor E. coli and Salmonella; the moist conditions that sprouts need to grow are perfect for breeding bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that sprouts (alfalfa, clover, radish, other sprouts) be thoroughly cooked before eating them to destroy bacteria and that high-risk individuals avoid sprouts altogether; the FDA also recommends cooking sprouts. Even carefully washed sprouts can harbor bacteria. Especially if you're at high risk, be aware that sandwiches and salads in restaurants may be made with raw sprouts.

To reduce your risk for foodborne illness if you choose to eat them raw, handle sprouts with care: refrigerate to slow bacterial growth; wash under cold, running water; and buy them fresh, with the buds on.

  • about the safety of wild mushrooms? Stick with exotic mushrooms from the store if you're a mushroom-lover. Telling the difference between edible and poisonous (some deadly) mushrooms takes a lot of expertise. Unless they're gathered by a trusted mushroom expert, the best advice is to avoid them. . . . if blood spots on eggs are okay? Yes, they happen naturally while the egg is forming, sometimes when a blood vessel on the yolk ruptures. You can remove them.
  • if you need to wash bagged produce that's labeled "ready-to-eat, prewashed"? It's okay without further washing if kept refrigerated and used by the "use by" date.

duce may attract bacteria and promotes its growth if produce isn't eaten right away.

Cutting through unwashed produce can carry bacteria from its surface into the inside flesh. Remove bruised or damaged spots because they may harbor bacteria or mold. "Rust" spots on lettuce aren't harmful; they occur as cells in the leaf break down naturally after harvest.

• Check canned and jar foods before opening them. Make sure that safety buttons on jar lids are depressed and that canned goods are still safe, not bulging or leaking. Wash the tops of canned goods before opening them so particles don't fall into food. Vacuum-packed canned foods may hiss softly when they're opened. That's probably the normal release of air

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