According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 1 in 6 Americans get sick, around 128,000 people get hospitalized and approx. 3,000 people die after eating contaminated food. Food safety affects everyone. Many of us might have experienced a food-borne illness at some point in our lives.
Food safety doesn’t begin and end at home. It crosses all levels of production, distribution, and preparation. Everyone involved in the production chain, from producers to consumers should ensure that the food should not be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, chemicals or toxins.
The following food safety facts can help you keep your family healthy and happy for years to come:
- Compromised Immune Systems
- Long-Term Illness
- Over 200 Known Diseases Are Caused Through Food
- Food Safety Is a Shared Responsibility
- Food Contaminants Are Everywhere
- Wash Your Hands!
Pregnant women are more likely to be affected by food poisoning and may have some severe symptoms if they get sick. They can be up to 10 times more vulnerable to listeria infections. For Hispanic mothers, that increases to 24 times.
People aged 65 and older are more vulnerable to food poisoning and other infections related to food-borne contaminants. The consequences of these food-borne illnesses are more severe and fatal for the elderly.
A food-borne illness is more likely to affect someone who has a depressed or compromised immune system. This includes individuals with chronic or terminal illnesses. People having weak immune systems due to certain medical conditions such as kidney disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS are at a high risk for food poisoning.
Eating or handling food contaminated with naturally occurring toxins and heavy metals can result in long-term illnesses including neurological disorders and cancer. Pay attention to the common symptoms of food-borne illness that include vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea.
Food contamination can result in the spread of over 200 known diseases from person to person. Children under the age of 5 are at high risk. Around 125,000 young children die from food-borne illnesses every year. Proper food preparation is essential to prevent food-borne diseases.
Many of the most harmful forms of bacteria are now showing signs of resistance to certain drugs and medications. This can make treating an illness caused by eating contaminated foods much more difficult.
The responsibility for keeping foods safe from bacteria belongs to everyone. Everyone must do their part that includes the government, industry, producers and consumers. It’s important to teach children the importance of food safety as early as possible.
Bacteria are easily spread from meats to vegetables. Be aware and handle both types of food separately. The area and utensils should be thoroughly cleaned before moving on to the next type of food.
Always be mindful to thoroughly wash each utensil used as well as the entire counter surface. Wipe down any other areas you may have touched. Keep raw meat, seafood, poultry and eggs separate from ready-to-eat food items.
Washing your hands is the single most effective way to eliminate the majority of food-borne bacteria. Always wash your hands before and after you handle any type of food or when you are ready to eat.
Being responsible with your food and remembering these food safety facts go hand in hand. Be aware of how you handle your food and the cooking methods you use. The health benefits will last for the rest of your life.
Newport Family Medicine, located in Newport Beach, CA, offers full-service family practice from pregnancy through childhood and adulthood to maturity. We provide comprehensive health care for people of all age groups.