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Unwashed salad leaves - possible E.coli risk

18 July 2016

Islanders are being reminded to thoroughly wash all salad leaves, particularly rocket leaves, before eating, unless the product has been pre-prepared and labelled ‘ready to eat’.

This advice follows a recent outbreak of E.coli in the UK which has led to two deaths and is known to have infected more than 150 people, with 62 people requiring hospital treatment .

E.coli 0157 is found in the gut and faeces of many animals, particularly cattle, and can contaminate food and water. Whilst outbreaks are rare, the symptoms can be serious and can cause abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. Symptoms typically appear three or four days after infection, but they can begin any time between 1 and 14 days after infection and can last for two weeks.

E.coli infection can be avoided by:

  • washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet, before and after handling food, and after handling animals
  • removing any loose soil before storing vegetables and salads
  • washing all vegetables and fruit that are eaten raw and unpeeled (for example apples, tomatoes, salad leaves, cucumbers)
  • storing and preparing raw meat and unwashed vegetables away from ready to eat foods
  • not preparing raw vegetables with utensils that have also been used for raw meat
  • cooking all minced meat products, such as burgers and meatballs, thoroughly. They are different to steak

People who have been ill should not prepare food for others for at least 48 hours after they have stopped having symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea

Director of Environmental Health, Stewart Petrie, said: “Food poisoning is unpleasant and E.coli can be particularly nasty, especially for those in vulnerable groups such as children under 5, those over 65 or people who are immune-compromised. We always recommend salad leaves are washed before being consumed to minimise the risk of food poisoning or accidental consumption of pests or soil.” 

Environmental Health are working with colleagues in the UK to ensure potentially contaminated leaves don’t make their way to Jersey, however it is good advice to always wash salad leaves that are not labelled ‘ready to eat’.

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