Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Healthy Habits: Preventing E Coli on Produce

National food safety expert and founder of the patented Eat Cleaner line, Mareya Ibrahim, is greatly concerned by the information being given by thought leaders in the produce and food safety world regarding the improper cleaning and handling of produce.  Ms. Ibrahim is a trusted advisor for major local chain grocery stores, military and school districts on removing harmful contaminants, and she would be honored to weigh in on their recent outbreak to put your readers minds at rest.
Food safety is a major issue with recalls announced regularly. About 48 million Americans, or 1 in 6, get sick each year from food but most consumers have little to no understanding of proper food safety according to FMI.  In 2017 CDC Food Surveillance system, which covers nearly 15% of the population, identified 19,542 cases of hospitalization that is nearly 500 more than previous years. Additionally, because of the drought and stricter water restrictions on California farmers, we need to find ways to be more cautious about how we clean our produce. Lastly, the FDA recommends washing with water alone, however this advice is dangerous because in lab studies, this method only shows minimal reduction of harmful contaminants.
Based on data from FDA.gov and journals such as the Journal of Science and Sustainable Development, it is clear that water and even chlorinated water show much lower than a 1% reduction of bacteria.  This has been corroborated by our own third party studies with Earthbound Farms, the Institute for Food Safety, and Health and Micro Quality labs. 

We don’t wash our hands with water alone.  We don’t wash our clothes with water alone.  Why would the tap water that we don’t even drink most of the time be a sufficient cleanser on its own?  There are a lot of ‘home made’ recipes for produce washes on line but have these been validated?  
I had a chance to interview Ms. Ibrahim to learn more.

Why is E coli such a big deal?
There are many different strains of E. coli but in general, it is a bacteria that is found in the intestines of humans and animals naturally, and it is actually an important part of the intestinal tract. The concern is when E. coli bacteria is pathogenic, it can wreak havoc on your health. Generally this happens from food, water or contact with animals or products that have been cross contaminated. 

How dangerous can it be?
Many people experience it in the form of diarrhea, vomiting and severe abdominal cramping. But exposure to pathogenic strains of E.coli can be extremely dangerous. It can cause kidney failure, and in some cases, it can be life-threatening. 

What are some basic prevention tips?
Avoid cross-contamination by using different cutting boards for meat and poultry and raw produce; wash hands and cutting services frequently; make sure to wash your produce and poultry, especially fresh, raw fruit and veggies. Leafy greens are the number one cause of foodborne illness from pathogenic bacteria - usually because of exposure to agricultural material. Even if you were cutting through produce and not eating the peel or skin, you want to make sure you clean the outside to avoid cross contamination.

Why is produce so often overlooked, and how can people safely wash produce?
Most people have never been educated on how to be food safe in the kitchen. Since leafy greens are the number one cause of foodborne illness, you really need to make sure those are effectively cleans and water alone is just not going to cut it. That’s why we created Eat Cleaner, the only line of lab proven, all natural and patented products to cut through what water can’t. We don’t clean anything with just water alone, so why shouldn’t we clean the produce that comes from the ground that is fertilized something specifically designed for that? So many countries around the world have been doing this type of cleaning. The fact is, any non-water soluble material is just not going to be removed with water alone and most produce is waxed. Wax traps bacteria and residue under the surface and unless you’re cleaning that off you really aren’t cleaning.  And we’ve made it so easy to not only clean but it’s done your produce shelflife so you’re getting produce that last up to five times longer. It really is a win-win.

Mareya Ibrahim is an award-winning entrepreneur, chef, author and inventor.  She is the founder and CEO of Grow Green Industries, Inc. (www.growgreenindustries.com) creators of patented, plant-based organic and Kosher solutions formulated to enhance food safety practices and extend produce shelf life under the brands eatCleaner®, eatSafe™ and eatFresh™.
As a nationally recognized expert on food safety and eating clean, she has been a featured speaker for the Network for a Healthy California, the Los Angeles Green Festival, the California School Nutrition Association and the California Fit Expo.  She has also been featured in top media outlets, including oprah.com, The Huffington Post, Parents Magazine, Sunset Magazine, The New York Times, Epoch Times, INC Magazine, NBC’s Today in LA and The Daily Buzz and is a regular guest on several news shows, KTLA, Fox 5 and San Diego 6.
Her goal is to help families come to the table to enjoy cleaner, safer meals. She is one of the signature ‘Daniel Plan’ Chefs and created the meal plans for the NY Times bestseller written by Dr. Rick Warren, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Daniel Amen. She is a featured chef on the Emmy-nominated cooking show “Recipe Rehab’ and is a fit lifestyle expert for eHow.com, Livestrong.com and San Diego Channel 6 News. Her book "The Clean Eating Handbook" was released in May 2013 and is being touted as the 'go-to' guide for anyone looking to eat cleaner and get leaner.  Her column, "The Fit Foodie", appears in Edible Orange County Magazine.
Mareya was a finalist for Inc. Magazine’s Newpreneur of the Year 2010 and is the winner of the Disney iParenting Award and the World’s Best Technology Gold Prize.  She is also the recipient of the 2013 Women Making a Difference Award for demonstrating extraordinary dedication and contributions to health and well-being, a designation awarded by California Senator Lou Correa. 

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