The agency said it has a seven-person team in its Maryland headquarters and specialists in 10 field offices across the country working to identify the source of the outbreak.
Q: What else do we know about this outbreak?
A: Not much. Iowa officials have said the salad mix wasn't grown in Iowa or Nebraska but won't say where it was grown or sold. The Iowa officials say that because there is no immediate threat, they are not required to say where the food came from. Food safety and consumer advocates disagree, saying the public has a right to know the source even if the tainted food is out of the commercial chain.
Q: What can I do to prevent contracting an illness like this?
A: Short of growing all of your own food, it may be unavoidable. All foods — including those labeled local, natural or organic — have the potential to be exposed to safety hazards on the farm, in transit or in the store. Sometimes all it takes is one rogue animal that broke through a fence or one employee who didn't do proper handwashing to infect food. If irrigation water is infected, that can sicken people too. Sometimes pathogens or parasites can be washed off the surface of food but other times they are deep inside, so anyone who eats it is at risk of becoming sick.
What you can do is make sure you practice safe handling and preparation. The FDA recommends always washing hands, utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. You should also thoroughly wash all fresh produce before you eat it. Those measures should significantly reduce your chances of getting sick.
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