Mind your Melons!
As the Labor Day weekend approaches, many of us are planning picnics and barbeques with family and friends. And while we pay close attention to grilling our meats to the right temperature and keeping our cold foods cold, we forget one of the most ‘dangerous’ food items:
Food poisoning from melons is a common occurrence and can lead to very serious symptoms, even hospitalization and death.
How does it happen? There are two common ways. First, melons that have bacteria on them from fields are not properly washed before slicing. The slicing then introduces the bacteria to the fruit. This has happened frequently with cantaloupe, which can be hard to wash given the texture of their skin.
Second, melons are cross-contaminated during the slicing process. In one terrible event, over 50 people were sickened and a 3 year old girl died in Milwaukee due to watermelon that was contaminated by meat when sliced at a local restaurant.
So when preparing fruit this weekend, keep the following tips in mind:
• Wash your fruit thoroughly. Use a brush to get at dirt in crevices.
• Put your fruit down on a clean surface for cutting. Don’t take a dirty melon, put it on your cutting board, wash it, and return it to the board.
• Keep fruit away from raw meat – be sure your knives and surfaces don’t cross.
Finally – enjoy the bounty of summer. Melons are a delicious addition to any picnic and are safe and enjoyable when properly prepared.