Food Safety is an Important Part of Nutrition
Learn about new tools for consumers to keep healthy foods safe
The Eighth Edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015 – 2020) was recently issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report focuses on five guidelines for American diets:
- Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan
- Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount
- Limit calories from added sugars & saturated fats and reduce sodium intake
- Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
- Support healthy eating patterns for all
All of these guidelines support eating more vegetables as part of a healthy diet. The report has five vegetable subgroups. The first subgroup is dark-green vegetables and includes broccoli, spinach, leafy salad greens, collards, box choy, kale, and green herbs. Americans currently do not eat nearly enough vegetables, and leafy greens are no exception (see details in the table below):
As American consumers are being encouraged to eat more vegetables, it is important for them to handle nutritious foods safely in order to decrease their risk of foodborne illness. Dietitians and other educators can incorporate safe food handling messages into nutrition education, which can help decrease the risk of foodborne illness.
Tools to Keep Healthy Foods Safe
The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement is an organization focused on food safety on the farm for lettuce and leafy green vegetables. However; this nutritious and healthy food requires safe handling from farm to fork – more so than other foods because leafy greens are frequently eaten raw. For that reason, we have put together consumer food safety resources for leafy greens on our website www.safeleafygreens.org.
Most of the information we provide comes from the Partnership for Food Safety Education (aka FightBac). FightBac exists to develop and promote effective education programs to reduce foodborne illness risk for consumers. We took their recommendations for produce and narrowed them down further to the best practices for lettuce and leafy greens. The resources we have created include videos and a one-page print out to help consumers understand what they can do to keep leafy greens safe at the store and at home.
Please check it out and if you like what you see, feel free to share. You can also sign up for our newsletter to get quarterly updates on the latest in produce safety from the LGMA.