Fresh vegetables, yet again, have been linked to a food poisoning outbreak. This time it’s cucumbers tainted with salmonella. Imported from Mexico, the cucumbers have sickened at least 73 people in 18 states, including Massachusetts, where one illness was reported, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Food and Drug Administration has blocked cucumbers at the Mexican border from the two farms that were linked to the outbreak.
Although no one has died from the salmonella infections, more than one in four sickened patients has been hospitalized, according to a CDC official who spoke with USA Today.
The CDC’s website states that there’s no evidence that the “contaminated cucumbers supplied by [the Mexican growers] Daniel Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse are still on the market.’’
Regardless, consumers should still follow safe handling measures when preparing fresh produce, the agency advises. Health officials recommend the following tips:
— Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
— When selecting pre-cut produce — such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens — choose only those items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
— Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry, and seafood products when packing them to take home from the market.
— Try to use different cutting boards for produce and raw meat, poultry or seafood; if you must share, wash the cutting board with soap and hot water in between uses.
— Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
— Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. Soap isn’t recommended.
— Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or vegetable.