For more Dr. Oz wellness tips, recipes, and exclusive sneak peeks from The Dr. Oz Show, subscribe to the Dr. Oz newsletter.
It’s pretty easy to assume that uncooked egg products (looking at you, raw cookie dough) and undercooked meats are the only foods that can cause foodborne illness. But salmonella can be on your fresh fruits and vegetables, too. On August 9, 2019, the FDA announced a Dole baby spinach recall amid concern for large amounts of packages that were possibly contaminated with salmonella.
According to the company statement, no illnesses have been reported yet, but the contaminated bags were sold in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. CBS News reported that the recall was prompted after a sample of Dole baby spinach tested positive for salmonella by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
So if you’re from one of these states and have Dole-brand spinach in your fridge, how can you tell if it’s part of the bad batch? Simply look at the lot code, which is stamped on the bag, as well as the use-by date — both located in the upper right portion of the produce bag. If your 6 0z. Dole baby spinach bag or your 10 oz. Dole baby spinach clamshell bag is stamped with lot code W20308A or lot code W203010, throw it away. If either of those bags have use-by dates of August 5, 2019, you should throw them away too.
According to the CDC, salmonella is estimated to cause “1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year.” If a recent recall warns that a certain food in your fridge or pantry may be contaminated with salmonella (or any other foodborne illness), throw it away immediately.
But sometimes, food can still be contaminated even if there is no recall. According to the MayoClinic, bacteria like E. coli can’t be detected by how the food product looks, smells, and tastes. If you consume food that has been contaminated by salmonella, E. coli, listeria, or any other bacteria, symptoms like diarrhea, fever, nausea, cramps, and vomiting may occur anywhere from 12 to 72 hours afterward. While these salmonella infection symptoms are common for most foodborne illnesses, salmonellosis can be fatal in some cases, leading to extreme dehydration, CBS News says.
Most of these symptoms, while unpleasant, will pass once the bacteria is out of your system. However, if these symptoms persist for more than a few days, or become more severe, make an appointment with your doctor. Unfortunately washing your food will probably not get rid of salmonella. Chances are, if you consume contaminated food, you will get sick.
So why do we bother washing food if it doesn’t get rid of salmonella?
According to Dr. Oz, washing all fruits and vegetables before consuming will help remove pesticides as well as some bacteria. According to the FDA, produce with peels, like avocados and mangos, should be rinsed before they’re cut so the bacteria doesn’t get transferred onto the knife. Alternatively, you shouldn’t wash raw meat, like chicken, before cooking it. According to Dr. Oz, it only increases the likelihood that bacteria will spread around the kitchen.
You should also wash your hands after handling all raw things to make sure you stop the spread of any potential bacteria when cooking. To take action against infection, also pay special attention to your kitchen surfaces. Avoid touching sink handles, bowls, and other surfaces with hands that recently touched uncooked foods. The CDC says to wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, as well as your preparation tools after use.