Sanitation and food safety are two aspects that the food industry and restaurateurs are constantly reminded are important aspects of keeping loyal customers and sanitation boards at bay. One of the biggest enemies to sanitation and food safety are the development of foodborne illnesses (aka food poisoning, foodborne infection and/or foodborne disease) in a food establishment. Foodborne illnesses are due to consumption of contaminated food that is raw or undercooked. Annually, 1 in 6 Americans become sick from contaminated foods and beverages.
Foodborne illnesses can be deadly, figuratively and literally to a business, yet, they are preventable. More than 250 different foodborne illnesses have been found to be due to bacteria, viruses and/or parasites. With varying causes, symptoms and outcomes, prevention and treatment for foodborne illnesses require equal attention to other aspects of one’s restaurant or food business.
Pathogens cause the most illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths per year. Symptoms include, but are not limited to diarrhea, fever, dehydration, upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and/or vomiting that last from one to seven days. Some examples include norovirus, listeriosis, salmonella, staph aureus, e. coli, campylobacter spp., etc.
The best method to limit exposure to foodborne illnesses is to practice safe food handling, recognize food safety practices and correct others when you see “short cuts.”
Foods Associated with Foodborne Illnesses:
- Raw fruits and vegetables can become contaminated when they intersect with animal waste when manure is used to fertilize produce in field or unclean water
- Raw foods of animal origin (i.e. poultry, eggs, meat, unpasteurized milk, raw shellfish)
- Raw sprouts due to the growing conditions are optimal for growing microbes
- Unpasteurized fruit juices or ciders if there are pathogens on the fruit used to produce the juice or cider
- Any food that has come in contact with a foodservice handler that is vomiting and has diarrhea.
There is no “one size fits all” treatment plan for foodborne illnesses, but often include increasing one’s fluid intake and seeking treatment from a primary cary physician (PCP). If there is severe diarrhea, Ceralyte, Pedialyte or Oralyte shoudl be consumed to replace lost electrolytes. Use of bismuth subsalicylate (aka Pepto Bismol) can also reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.
Have you personally experienced food poisoning? What was your individual situation? Was it due to poor food safety?