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In the first part of this series we learned about what antibiotics do, where they’re used, and how they can be problematic in our food supply. The second part is all about what you can do to minimize the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in your home. There’s never a good time to feel under the weather, let alone be devastatingly ill with a treatment-resistant infection.
Minimizing the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs
There are a couple of different tactics you can use to try to deter superbugs from colonizing your kitchen. These strategies are particularly important if you’ve got high risk groups like children and infants, the elderly, those undergoing chemotherapy, and/or anyone with a weakened immune system, living under your roof .
- Choose antibiotic-free animal products : Look for ‘antibiotic-free’ or ‘100% organic’ on the label when you purchase poultry, meat, eggs, milk or other animal products. ‘Organic’ is a term regulated by the USDA, and incorporates a wide variety of farming practice including abstaining from antibiotic and hormone use.
- Wash fruits and veggies thoroughly, even ones with skins: Many farms produce both animal products, and fresh fruit and veggies, and superbugs can quickly and easily be transmitted from one to the other . Unlike most animal products which are cooked before consuming (a process which tends to kill many forms of bacteria), many fruits and veggies are consumed raw. Thoroughly washing fruit and veggies under running water can help remove bacteria.
- Pay attention to cooking temperature: Many forms of bacteria are susceptible to heat, and destroyed during the cooking process. Consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry and eggs can increase your risk of getting sick from a nasty superbug. Check out this nifty pamphlet from the USDA to learn about safe cooking temperatures, and slash your risk of getting a foodborne bug.
- Buy pasteurized milk: Raw milk is increasingly trendy, although its availability is still restricted in most states because of the risk of foodborne illness. Pasteurized milk is exposed to a quick flash of heat which destroys bacteria, without dramatically changing the flavor, and is another way to mitigate your risk of getting sick from a superbug.
- Separate raw meat and poultry from other food items: Superbugs can potentially spread from one preparation/cooking surface to another if proper precautions aren’t taken in the kitchen. Store raw meat and poultry separately on the bottom shelf of your fridge, have separate cutting board for fruit/veggies and meat, and wash your hands thoroughly after preparing raw meat, poultry, and eggs.
- Know where your food comes from: Last but not least, investigate where some of your staples come from. Grocers often buy from the same suppliers week-in, week-out. A little bit of homework about the origin of your food, how it’s raised, and what it’s given in the process can go a long way.