Chew On This
Foodborne contaminants are a common form of preventable illness in the United States today. Annually, 48 millions Americans are sickened from a pathogen contained in something they ate. That is nearly 20%, or 1 out of every 6 citizens. There are 128,000 hospitalizations due to food-related pathogens each year. 3,000 persons in the U.S. die each year due to foodborne illness. Anyone is susceptible to contracting these illnesses; however, pregnant women, older adults, and persons with chronic illnesses are at increased risk of becoming very sick. The economic impact of foodborne illnesses accounts for $77.7 billion, due to medical costs, productivity losses, and deaths.
A majority of reported outbreaks, 8 in every 10, originate from food prepared in commercial settings. The most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, Norovirus, is perpetuated by sick food handlers in 53% of all cases. Other sources of foodborne illness include bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, viruses, parasites, and chemicals. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, or chills. More serious cases can affect the central nervous system, and include symptoms such as headache, tingling or numbness of the skin, blurred vision, weakness, dizzyness, or paralysis.
Simple precautions can reduce the risk of transmission of these illnesses. Wash hands before and during food preparation, and always wash hands after using the bathroom. Keep areas and tools involved in food preparation cleaned and sterilized. Implement proper heating and cooling standards in the cooking and storage of food. Use safe water to wash and cook food, and select food carefully to ensure quality.