Wherever they shop -- at a farmers market, supermarket or restaurant -- consumers should bring a healthy sense of awareness and skepticism.
"All food has the potential to cause foodborne illness," said Barbara Kowalcyk, who leads the nonprofit Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention in Raleigh, N.C. A scientist (biostatistician), she became a food-safety advocate after her 2-year-old son, Kevin, died in 2001 from eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7.
The burger didn't come from a farmers market. But the tragedy changed how Kowalcyk chooses food for herself and her family at any venue.
"Certainly, when I go to the farmers markets, I'm looking to see how clean the facility is," she said. "I will ask questions -- particularly about food that's been sitting out, especially meat and cheese products."
And when buying produce, especially if it will be consumed raw or partially cooked, Kowalcyk said she passes up anything "with broken skin. It has potential for bacteria to get inside."
To supplement existing protections and offset shortcomings in the U.S. food-safety system, she and other experts urge consumers to observe and ask questions. Among them:
See more advice from the federal Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at http://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/farmers_market.html.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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