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

Clean

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.

Separate

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.

Cook

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.

Chill

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.

Photo: whattofeedyourkids.blogspot.com

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
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,225,585
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 6,431,795
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,654

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 66,647
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 5,931
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 127,960
Load More

Resources

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

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,654
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,206
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,612
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,718
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,559,831

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

The summer is approaching which bring to mind certain events. People will go to the beach, enjoying a day by the pool, and most importantly people will...

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

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

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

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

The Boston Cannons'

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

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

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

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

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

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

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

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Why You Should Always Say No to Diet Foods

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

The Case for Red Meat

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank