How to Prevent Food Poisoning From Leafy Greens and Other Contaminated Food | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning From Leafy Greens and Other Contaminated Foods

February 7, 2013 | Kait Fortunato

Must See Nutrition Videos

We rarely ever hear anything negative about eating leafy green vegetables. They have few calories, are nutrient dense and should be the foundation of a healthy diet. So why do athletes have to think twice when serving up leafy greens? A government study found that leafy greens and spinach are the leading sources of food poisoning. In fact, nearly half of those who suffered from food poisoning contracted it from produce.

Earlier this month, the FDA proposed new rules for produce safety to "set new hygiene standards for farm workers and for trying to reduce contact with animal waste and dirty water." However, most problems are caused within our own kitchens. With all foods, but especially fruits and vegetables, we must pay proper attention to make sure food safety is addressed in our homes.

According to, here are four steps to ensure the safety of your food.


It's important to clean foods—as well as the surfaces, utensils and hands that touch the food. Wash your hands before handling a new food item and when switching between foods. Make sure your surfaces, cutting boards and knives have been sanitized. Even if you are planning to peel your produce, wash the entire fruit or vegetable with cold running water, and dry it with a clean towel. Soap and detergent are not recommended.


This starts when you are in the store. Bag your meats and produce separately and keep them apart in the shopping cart. Look for produce without bruises or marks. If the fruit or vegetables are pre-cut, make sure they are stored in ice and sealed properly. At home, use separate cutting boards and knives for produce, meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. It's a good idea to get different colored cutting boards and designate them for individual food items. Also, keep produce and meat separate in the refrigerator, and store meat on the bottom shelf so it doesn't leak onto other food items.


Do not rely on appearance or time when cooking foods properly. Use this chart to identify the proper internal temperature to aim for when cooking. For mixed dishes, make sure to reheat to a proper temperature of 165°F before serving.


Refrigerate foods promptly and correctly. Fruits and vegetables need to be 40°F or below. Make sure produce is covered well, and do not keep items past their expiration date.

Check out this video for more tips on safely eating leafy green vegetables.


Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Must See
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 3,100,065
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,491,348
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 2,195,013

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 224,492
Add Core Power for Basketball With Damian Lillard's Med Ball Throws Views: 4,255,927
Path to the Pros 2015: The Journey Begins Views: 26,383
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

It always amazes me how many clients I see who come in so motivated to change their lifestyle and work on achieveing a healthy weight with limited...

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

The Case for Red Meat

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

The Boston Cannons'

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank