Looking around Kingstown and St.Vincent on the whole, watermelon can be seen in abundance, whether whole on vendor tables or sliced in bags.
In last week edition, we learnt about the health benefits of watermelon. This week we will look further into the environmental health aspects of this noble fruit.
Watermelon by nature is a fruit that’s is 95% water. This means that it can be easily contaminated. So when selling, buying or eating watermelon, it should be treated in such away that prevents food poisoning.
Food microbiology teaches us that bacteria that causes food poisoning can multiply rapidly in foods that have a high level of water content. Given the high level of water content in watermelon, food poisoning can occur easily. The oxygen present in the water and the alkalinity of this fruit are also factors that can contribute to the growth of bacteria and consequently result in food poisoning.
Another environmental heath issue is the proper storage of watermelon for sale. Depending on where it is stored, this fruit can become contaminated with salmonella and result in food borne illnesses.
To prevent food poisoning from occurring, there are some safety tips one can adhere to:
1. Buy watermelon from reputable vendors. One that is trusted and reliable.
2. Make sure that once the water melon is cut, it is put into a chiller or on ice. The chances of food poisoning increases once left in the open air or at room temperature for extended periods of time.
3. Observe that the melon is sliced with a clean knife that was washed with clean potable water to kill bacteria. Dirty knives can also transmit bacteria resulting in food borne illnesses such as E.Coli poisoning that results in vomiting, nausea, and head ache within a few hours after eating contaminated food.
4. Storage bags for sliced watermelon should have holes for proper ventilation, and the elimination of excess or residual water from the watermelon itself.
5. The hygienic appearance of the person selling or cutting watermelons is also very important. They must be clean, well kept, hair should be covered and they should be following recommended food safety protocols.
In conclusion, watermelon has many nutritional benefits, but on the other hand, if handled, sold or stored incorrectly, they can cause food poisoning. Always be food safety wise when buying and eating watermelon.