How to Prevent Foodborne-Illness Outbreaks due to Salmonella
A great number of Americans get sick from food poisoning every year. The cause of most outbreaks is salmonella that contaminate foods.
Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Statistics
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, there are 2,231 cases of foodborne-illnesses in 2009 to 2010 due to salmonella-contaminated eggs. The U.S. CDC is responsible for investigating the different cases of foodborne illnesses.
The senior epidemiologist of CDC, Hannah Gould, stated that one of six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness per year.
In 2009 to 2010, CDC records show there were over 1,500 outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, where 29,500 got sick, 1,200 were hospitalized and 23 persons died.
Causes of Food Poisoning
Foodborne illness outbreaks were not only due to salmonella-contaminated eggs. Other food products, such as sprouts, tomatoes and peppers were also found to be contaminated with salmonella. Then, there were other pathogens, such as Campylobacter found in unpasteurized dairy products and E. Coli 0157 in beef, that cause foodborne diseases.
Sometimes, outbreaks warrant the recall of certain products. Based on records, there were 40 outbreaks that happened which demanded product recalls.
There were also cases of outbreaks that are not reported. In fact, only 5 to 10 percent of outbreaks are reported.
Foodborne illness due to salmonella and norovirus is termed cruise-ship flu. It is generally characterized by seious gastrointestinal problems.
Dr. Marc Siegel of NYU Langone Medical Center said that foodborne illnesses are also brought about by the lack of quality checks of the food products.
Contamination may happen at any point in the food chain. It may happen at the farm or in the kitchen at the time of food preparation.
Prevention of Food Contamination
It is everybody’s responsibility to exercise good hygiene and food safety practices when handling food to prevent foodborne illnesses. People at the farm, the food manufacturing company, the restaurant and at home should each do their part.
If only the right practices were always followed, most foodborne illness outbreaks could have been prevented. What are the proper food handling techniques we need to observe? Here are some of them:
- Always wash your hands.
- Observe proper food storage and preparation. Meat and eggs, for example, should be kept in the freezer and refrigerator, respectively.
- Keep foods clean. Separate meat from fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Cook foods up to the recommended internal temperature.
Data showed that 48 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks were because of food eaten in a deli shop or restaurant and 21 percent were from food prepared at home.
So, if you’re eating at a restaurant, check the establishment’s health inspection score. If it’s too low, go find some place else to eat.
Poor farming or processing practices may also cause food contamination.
For example, chickens are often in contact with their own feces, a source of Salmonella. Cattle, on the other hand, are given grain, which encourages E. coli to thrive in their stomach.
By doing something to address these issues right at the farm, food supply contamination can be stopped early on.
Photo credits: By Arlington County via Flickr, CC by-sa 2.0