03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Everybody Eats Where? At Home, at Work, On the Street?

I am not into scare tactics, but I will say this, for someone who loves to dine out in restaurants, pick up and eat soft pretzels from the vendors scattered around NY, buy fruits and vegetables from grocery stores, I am constantly putting my stomach and even my life into somebody else's hands.

A very good friend of mine had a bad case of food poisoning yesterday, and it came from eating one tomato! I asked her if she washed the tomato and she said yes. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to cleaning my produce. I soak all fruits and vegetables, salad greens and anything with a skin on it, in water mixed with a vitamin C powder that you can get at any health food store. I allow everything to rest in the water for 15 minutes and then I rinse well. I go through this same procedure for asparagus, broccoli and even melons. Who knew that when you cut into a melon, orange or apple, the bacteria on the skin can easily creep into the actual fruit. (I saw this on an episode of The Dr. Oz Show). If you were able to see how many people have handled your produce from the time it is picked to its arrival on our dinner tables, you would never want to put anything in your mouth again!

It is a sad fact that all the food-borne illnesses seem to be near epidemic level. Yes, our government is partially at fault, but we can protect ourselves if they don't want to, by taking extra time to prepare our food. I am hoping that you -- restaurateurs and food purveyors -- will also be more diligent in making sure to properly handle, clean and store the food that is sold to we, the consumer.

Ask your doctor, as I did, if taking a probiotic could help guard your stomach and strengthen your immune system. One just never knows what perils are lurking out there when dining at home and in restaurants.