Some 2,000 people all across Europe and at least four in the United States have fallen ill in the past two weeks as a result of the recent Escherichia coli (E.coli) outbreak centered in Northern Germany. Nearly 500 of these have developed a rare complication known hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) that damages kidneys and destroys red blood cells. 22 people have died. If you’re planning on traveling within Europe and especially Germany in the near future, it only makes sense to brush up on your food safety.

Though the German government is working hard to track down the culprit in this recent outbreak, this story is still developing. With initial warnings given to avoid, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers in the region, the German government believed it had traced the outbreak to a bean sprout farm in its Lower Saxony region, 40 miles south of Hamburg (where the outbreak’s ground zero appeared to be.) But preliminary testing of over half of the samples attained tested negative for the, “super-toxic” strain of E. coli bacteria, leaving many scratching their heads.

While they work on isolating the contaminated food source in Germany, what happens to your European travel plans? And what about food poisoning here, on our soil, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne pathogens are responsible for an average 48 million illnesses and between 3,000 and 9000 deaths each year. So, how can you keep yourself and your loved ones safe?

Always follow the CDC’s Safe Food Handling Guidelines

Do your homework before traveling abroad. The CDC’s website features updated information on disease and foodborne illness outbreaks around the world on their site.
Avoid foods like raw vegetables, salads, sauces made with egg, unpasteurized milk and raw or partially cooked meat and seafood.
If you eat fruit, choose fruits whose skins can be peeled, like oranges or bananas.
If you have any symptoms of food poisoning (vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, stomach cramps etc.) make sure you’re seen by a physician immediately and detail what and where you have eaten in your recent travels.

Call Minnesota attorneys Meshbesher & Spence for counsel on what you can do in cases of food poisoning with the confidence that your family will be competently represented with integrity by the law firm Minnesotans know and trust.