Information and Food Safety Reminders to Reduce Foodborne Illnesses
When it concerns foodborne illnesses, the biggest culprit is contaminated leafy vegetables, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in an article published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. But meat and poultry are often the reason for deaths due to food poisoning.
Causes of foodborne illnesses
Here is the breakdown of the causes of foodborne illnesses. Of the 46 percent of foodborne illnesses that are found to be linked to eating fresh produce, which includes fruits and nuts, 22 percent were because of eating leafy vegetables, including spinach and kale.
Dairy products caused 14 percent of illnesses; fruits and nuts caused 12 percent and poultry caused 10 percent.
Most deaths are attributed to the eating of meat products. Specifically, poultry accounts for 19 percent of the deaths, resulting from salmonella and listeria contamination.
According to a previous report by the CDC regarding the foodborne illnesses cases in the United States, 48 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year. That means one of six people get food poisoning each year. About 9 million of the foodborne illnesses were due to the major pathogens identified by the CDC.
Which types of foods are common sources of these illnesses? The answer to this question helped target and regulate the particular food industry involved and lessen the food poisoning incidences.
The CDC had compiled the data of actual foodborne illnesses outbreaks since 1998, which was the year when filling out the information on ingredients was first required from food suppliers and manufacturers.
The CDC found out that the main pathogen that causes foodborne illnesses is Norovirus. It’s a virus that most people have contact with. It can be easily passed on to food by people who fail to wash their hands after vomiting or using the toilet and then touching food.
Tips for avoiding food contamination
Washing the hands prior to touching food is a very important rule when it comes to food handling whether in the restaurant or at your home kitchen.
Produce that is not cooked, such as leafy greens, must be washed prior to eating to avoid food poisoning.
Proper storage of meat in the refrigerator and cooking it thoroughly to the required internal temperature help to avoid foodborne illnesses.
Avoid cross-contamination. Knives and cutting boards that have been used in slicing meat and poultry must be washed very well before using them for cutting fresh fruits and vegetables and other cooked food items.
Photo Credit: Content Providers(s): CDC/ Minnesota Department of Health, R.N. Barr Library; Librarians Melissa Rethlefsen and Marie Jones [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons