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RIP Chipotle: 5 Easy Ways To Protect Yourself From E. Coli

Recently, there have been E. coli outbreaks from Chipotle, Costco and Starbucks.

E. coli (or Escherichia coli) is bacteria that normally lives in the intestines of people and animals.

Most strains are harmless and actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract, but some are pathogenic and can lead to diarrhea, fever, vomiting and stomach cramps.

The types of E. coli that can cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated waste or food, or through contact with animals or people.

E. coli is one of the mot common causes of foodborne illness in the US.

The CDC estimates there are approximately 265,000 E. coli infections in the US every year.

The infection begins when you swallow tiny amounts of human or animal feces.

The amount is so small, but you can get it through uncooked meat or raw produce.

It can also be transmitted from eating food prepared by someone who did not wash his or her hands properly.

Here are five tips to help prevent yourself from getting an E. coli infection:

1. Avoid raw and unpasteurized juices.

If you wanted to try that raw juice cleanse, maybe you shouldn't.

High acid fruits like berries and oranges can carry E. coli and other bacteria.

Raw fruits are contaminated because orchards aren't the cleanest places, and they can be breeding grounds for bacteria.

The bacteria can travel through the water and compost, and animals can contaminate the fruit through their feces.

Insects can be carriers as well.

Workers who harvest and sort the fruit can also introduce the bacteria if they are not hygienic enough.

Pasteurization is the heating of the juice to kill disease-carrying bacteria, and any freshly squeezed orange juice is a breeding ground for bacteria.


2. Always wash your hands.

Thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and soap after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.

It's a common fact that washing our hands with soap removes germs and helps prevent infections, yet some people just splash a little water on them and walk away.

This is so unsanitary and disgusting.

By not washing your hands properly, you are helping bacteria and germs spread.

Germs from unwashed hands can get into food and drinks, and they can be transferred to other objects when people touch them.

By washing our hands with soap, we are preventing bacteria from being able to travel.


3. Wash counters, cutting boards and utensils before and after they come into contact with raw meat.

You need to be careful to avoid cross-contamination when preparing and cooking food, especially if there is meat involved.

The utensils used on raw meat should not be used on the cooked meat.

Also, clean the shelves in refrigerators.

In addition, make sure you cover all your food properly, and place all cooked food in the fridge within an hour of cooking it.

Other things you can do include keeping frozen food frozen until you need to use it and following the expiration dates on all items.


4. Cook all meat to the accurate temperature.

Just because you thoroughly cook hamburger meat, that does not mean E. coli bacteria has been killed, especially if the patty was frozen.

Use a meat thermometer and make sure it's heated to approximately 155 degrees Fahrenheit, and make sure you never put cooked hamburgers on the same plate they were on raw.

Eggs and fish need to be cooked to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and poultry needs to be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


5. Be careful eating fresh food.

When it comes to E. coli, fresh does not necessarily mean healthy.

For produce that's typically eaten raw, make sure you vigorously wash them all very carefully.

If possible, remove the skin.

Although you will never be 100 percent safe from E. coli, taking these preventative measures are ways to decrease your chances of getting infected.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

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Felisa Wiley

Contributor

Felisa Wiley is a senior at Muhlenberg College majoring in media mommunications. When she's not writing, you can find her hiding in her room binge-watching Netflix shows and daydreaming about returning home to St. Thomas, VI.
Felisa Wiley is a senior at Muhlenberg College majoring in media mommunications. When she's not writing, you can find her hiding in her room binge-watching Netflix shows and daydreaming about returning home to St. Thomas, VI.

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