Food borne illnesses affect one in six Americans each year, causing 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations, according to updated statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Data collected by the CDC found that out of the 48 million cases of food borne illnesses each year, 9.4 million of those cases were caused by 31 known food borne pathogens.
The additional 38 million illnesses were caused by unspecified agents that are responsible for 80 percent of estimated cases.
The CDC reported that 90 percent of all food borne deaths and hospitalizations were caused by seven known pathogens. Salmonella wreaked the most havoc, causing 28 percent of deaths and 35 percent of hospitalizations.
Salmonella symptoms can last from 4-7 days and does not always require treatment. Infants, older adults and those with other medical conditions can be more infected. Though many cases of food poisoning can occur at a restaurant, what can you do to promote health safety of your food at home?
- Never eat undercooked meat or poultry and make sure milk is fresh
- Do not leave foods that are supposed to be refrigerated outside for long periods of time
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure foods are cooked correctly
- Wash your hands before and after preparing a meal
- Make sure that your nails are clean
- Wash your hands after handling your pets
- Wash raw produce under running tap water before cooking or serving
- Separate uncooked meat and poultry from other cooked foods
- Clean counter tops thoroughly and use cutting boards for raw materials
If you think you have been poisoned which can include diarrhea, cramps and vomiting, drink lots of fluids and check with your doctor. Sometimes a fever may be present, which is another reason to confirm with your health care provider.
Food poisoning happens randomly, emphasizing the importance of a life insurance policy in case sickness suddenly strikes. The World Health Organization reports that environmental pollution, urbanization and the globalization of food trade are all factors that need to be addressed in order to improve food safety and reduce illnesses.