German authorities are currently testing a mix of sprouted seeds used in salads to see if it is the cause of the outbreak. Previous suspects – organic cucumbers and raw beansprouts - have now been ruled out.
Although the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found no evidence that affected products have entered the UK, it used the latest update to remind people of basic food hygiene practices.
Hertfordshire-based food hygiene consultant Safer Food Scores has issued advice specifically for caterers serving uncooked fresh produce and for the preparation of bean sprouts, identified as a vehicle of transmission in a Salmonella Bareilly outbreak that affected at least 240 people in 2010.
Taking in deliveries:
- Avoid bruised or damaged fruit and vegetables because bacteria can hide in the damaged areas and spread rapidly throughout the rest of the fruit.
- Ensure fresh-cut produce such as bagged salads or sections of melon are refrigerated
- Make sure fresh produce has been segregated from meat, poultry or seafood products during transportation.
Preparing fresh produce:
- Wash hands before preparing any fresh produce
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas and wash fruit or vegetables even if you are going to peel them.
- Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce and slice the blossom and stem ends off fresh produce after washing as bacteria and dirt can be trapped there.
Bean sprout safety:
- Before cooking rinse thoroughly, avoid sprouts that have turned brown or have a strange odour, do not use past the 'use by' date on the package and keep refrigerated.
- Cook thoroughly until steaming hot and if added to a stir-fry, simmer for a few minutes.