Safety tips for serv­ing fresh mel­ons at home

Walker County Messenger - - Worship Directory - By Sharon Dowdy

An on­go­ing out­break of food­borne ill­ness linked to pre­cut can­taloupe and wa­ter­melon pur­chased from gro­cery stores has caused 60 peo­ple in five states to be­come ill and about half of those to be­come hos­pi­tal­ized, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

To help con­sumers pre­pare mel­ons safely at home, Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion Foods Spe­cial­ist Judy Har­ri­son of­fers this ad­vice:

When pur­chas­ing whole mel­ons, choose fruits with no sunken or dark spots.

Be­fore cut­ting a melon, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 sec­onds and pay special at­ten­tion to the ar­eas be­tween your fin­gers and around your nails.

Wash the out­side of the melon un­der clean, run­ning water. Use a clean pro­duce brush to scrub the sur­face, then rinse it well.

Use a clean cut­ting board and clean knife to cut the melon on a clean coun­ter­top.

Once the melon is cut, ei­ther serve it im­me­di­ately or re­frig­er­ate it im­me­di­ately. The juicy sur­faces of cut mel­ons are great places for bac­te­ria to mul­ti­ply if con­di­tions are warm. When mel­ons are cut, they must be kept cold.

Don’t buy mel­ons that are al­ready cut or sliced un­less they have been on ice or kept re­frig­er­ated.

Throw cut or sliced mel­ons away if they have been at room tem­per­a­ture for more than two hours or have sat out in tem­per­a­tures at or above 90 de­grees Fahren­heit for one hour.

For more in­for­ma­tion on how to safely pre­pare and store foods, con­tact your UGA Fam­ily and Con­sumer Sci­ences agent at 1-800-ASKUGA1 or re­view UGA Ex­ten­sion pub­li­ca­tions avail­able at ex­ten­sion. uga.edu/pub­li­ca­tions.

Sharon Dowdy is a news ed­i­tor with the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia Col­lege of Agri­cul­tural and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ences.

A cold slice of Ge­or­gia-grown wa­ter­melon is a nat­u­ral snack for a hot summer day. Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia food safety spe­cial­ists say that once a melon is cut, food ei­ther serve or re­frig­er­ate it im­me­di­ately. The juicy sur­faces of cut mel­ons are great...

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