You always wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them, right?
But how about melons?
I’ll be honest, I’ve never washed a cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon in my life, but from now on I will.
If you live in Colorado or an adjoining state you may be aware of a lysteria outbreak believed to originate from Colorado-grown cantaloupes.
Lysteria is a food-borne bacterial infection that can cause severe gastrointestinal and neurological problems. In this current outbreak, 15 people have been sickened and one has died.
When melon rinds are cut, knife blades can pick up bacteria, pesticides, and herbicides on the surface of melons, then contaminate the flesh inside.
According to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida, lysteria and other harmful microorganisms can be avoided by thoroughly washing melons with a soft brush before cutting them open.
This is especially important with cantaloupes because the niches in the rough surface give contaminants plenty of tiny places to hide.
“Melons: Safe Handling Practices for Consumers” Amy Simonne, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, edis.ifas.ufl.edu
“Avoiding Illness: Listeria” Beth Seaman, Technorati, 9/14/11, technorati.com