Guidelines For Safe Food Handling To Prevent Foodborne Disease

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A foodborne illness is a preventable disease which is an enormous, continuous challenge to public health.

Although the US has one of the highest sets of health standards in the world when it comes to food handling, either in the home, the myriads of takeaway food outlets, or even in the poshest restaurants, millions of Americans are still laid low by foodborne diseases.

Recent studies revealed that approximately 48 million Americans are affected by it each year, of which 128,000 are hospitalized. The death toll annually is around 3,000.

The numbers include people who eat food to-go, those who dine out, and those who eat at home. Without exception, the illnesses are caused by bacteria due to the careless handling, poor storage, and incorrect preparation of food. You cannot see, taste, or smell bacteria which may be present in poorly handled food.


How bacteria in contaminated food can affect you

Fortunately, most healthy people will recover from a foodborne illness fairly quickly, while others may develop serious health problems which include prolonged diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, with a danger of becoming severely dehydrated.

In addition, some people like older adults, young children, pregnant women, and those with low immunity, have a much higher risk of falling prey to foodborne diseases.

Here are some common bacteria in contaminated foods which cause the most trouble.

  • Salmonella is one of the most common forms of bacteria to cause food poisoning infecting the intestinal tract. Most people recover in 3 to 4 days without treatment. It can be present in undercooked meat, poultry, raw eggs, and egg products.
  • E-coli is found in undercooked ground beef, raw milk products like soft cheeses, some raw fruit, and raw veggies such as sprouts. Symptoms include violent stomach cramps, and severe diarrhea which may lead to bloody stools.
  • Listeria, unlike other bacteria, can actually grow in cold temperatures like the fridge. It can be present in refrigerated meat spreads, ready-to-eat deli meats, raw milk, and raw sprouts. You could be troubled by fever, muscle pains, nausea, and a flu-like illness.
  • Botulism is a rare, but dangerous, bacteria which is very toxic to the body. The toxins can come from home-canned foods, improperly-canned commercial foods, fermented fish, potatoes baked in tin foil, bottled garlic, and other foods kept warm for an extended time. The symptoms may be characterised by muscle weakness of the arms and chest, as well as blurred vision. Note that raw honey may also contain botulism bacteria and should not be given to children under the age of one year.

Safety first should always be the top priority when handling food, as bacteria in contaminated foodstuff can have serious health repercussions.

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