Since Memorial Day is coming up, marking the start a grilling season for many people, I figured this would be a great week to cover food safety, a topic not necessarily thrilling, but too often neglected to the detriment of the public.
Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, occurs when an individual develops a GI infection or irritation after eating a food contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxic chemicals. Most foodborne illnesses are caused by bacteria, like E. coli, Clostridium botulinum, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes, or viruses, like the norovirus or hepatitis A. Parasitic infections are rare in the U.S.
To give you an idea of the sheer scale of foodborne illnesses, each year in the U.S., there are:
• 48 million cases of foodborne illness (1 in 6 Americans)
• 128,000 hospitalizations
• 3,000 deaths
Common symtoms of foodborne illness includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills. All lovely things. Symptoms may last between a couple hours and a couple days.
Serious complications can result from foodborne illnesses, like severe dehydration, hemolytic uremic syndrome (in kids mostly), and paralysis (from botulism). Populations most at risk of complications are pregnant women, young kids, older adults, individuals with weak immune systems.
Check back in all week for some practical tips, a little bit of myth-busting, and research-based facts on food safety so you're best equipped to prevent foodborne illness!