Tips on E. coli Safety

Monday, July 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Ground beef is the most common source of the E. coli bacteria, but not the only one. Fruits, vegetables and drinking water also can harbor the deadly pathogen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these tips for preventing E. coli infections:

—Cook all ground beef and hamburger thoroughly. Ground beef can turn brown before the bacteria are killed, so it should be heated until a thermometer inserted into several parts of the patty, including the thickest section, reads at least 160 degrees.

—If you are served an undercooked hamburger or other ground beef product in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking.

—To avoid spreading the bacteria at home, keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods. Wash hands, counters, and utensils with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat. Never place cooked hamburgers or ground beef on the unwashed plate that held raw patties. Wash meat thermometers in between tests of patties that require further cooking.

—Drink only pasteurized milk, juice, or cider.

—Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially those that will not be cooked. Children under 5 and people with depressed immune systems should avoid eating alfalfa sprouts.

—Drink municipal water that has been treated with chlorine or other effective disinfectants and avoid swallowing lake or pool water while swimming.