It is estimated that 1 in 6 Americans suffer from food poisoning every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 48 million people in the USA will get sick from some form of food-borne illness. As such, it may be time to revisit the basics. Its never too soon to renew general public understanding of food poisoning and recommended preventative measures.
Firstly, food poisoning can happen to anybody – it does not discriminate. This is a point made often by the National Food Poisoning Lawyer, Dr. Tony Coveny:
“…food-borne illnesses occur when a person eats food that has been contaminated by some sort of pathogen. Food poisoning pathogens vary wildly from viruses and bacteria to parasitic worms. Illnesses can last for hours, days, weeks, and in some cases, and is some cases infections can lead to life-long challenges.”
While food poisoning may take the form of an uncomfortable yet survivable stomach bug, it unfortunately takes the lives of approximately 3,000 Americans every year. Symptoms of food-borne illnesses may vary from person to person, but the following are often experienced by sickened individuals: nausea, diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, dehydration, vomiting, and others.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published, there are four overarching safety tips that should be practiced in order to decrease the likelihood of food poisoning.
- Firstly, cleanliness is key. Proper hygiene when preparing food includes thorough washing of hands, avoiding contact with areas such as the mouth and eyes during food preparation.
- Secondly, separating all raw foods can help decrease cross-contamination of juices containing various bacterias.
- Thirdly, cooking all foods to the proper temperature is vital to increasing food safety in meal consumption. Refer to the CDC’s list of recommended cook-to temperatures.
- Finally, chilling the proper foods when necessary can help halt the growth of harmful bacteria. Refrigerator temperatures shouldn’t exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of exposure after cooking.
There is potential for the United States to move towards decreasing food poisoning rates, particularly if food safety guidelines such as the CDC’s are followed closely.