The Center for Disease Control and Prevention “estimates that each year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans [or 48 million people] gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food borne diseases” (para.1, 2012). Misinformation, lack of awareness of diseases, and unreliable information sources contribute to improper food handling habits.
Common Safety Issues
Keeping food safe is important to prevent food borne illnesses. Common safety procedures that help prevent illness include cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling or storing food.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling foods as measures to keep food safe (n. d.). ...view middle of the document...
S. Department of Health and Human Services). To ensure foods are cooked at the right temperature, using a thermometer is helpful because color and texture are not enough to determine if foods are done (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Once food is cooked, it is important to keep food hot to prevent bacteria growth. When using the microwave, foods must be cooked above 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the package indicates to let sit for a few minutes, following instructions is important so food is fully cooked; this can help cold portions heat up properly (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
Proper refrigeration of cooked foods is important because bacteria can grow within two hours of cooking (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Temperature should be set between 42 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees or below (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). The refrigerator should not be overly stuffed to allow proper airflow and food should be stored in smaller containers for faster chill time (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). When thawing food, it should be thawed in water, the microwave, the refrigerator, or simply cook the food frozen, as this is acceptable (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Thawing on the counter or sink can increase bacteria growth.
Food Borne Illnesses and Recommendations
When food is not properly cleaned, cooked, or chilled the growth of bacteria is more common. This can result in food borne illnesses that can be life threatening.
Currently, there are more than 250 different food borne illnesses with most being infections (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). The table below indicates the top five pathogens responsible for hospitalization and deaths.
Pathogen | Estimated number of illnesses | 90% Credible Interval | % |
Norovirus | 5,461,731 | 3,227,078–8,309,480 | 58 |
Salmonella, nontyphoidal | 1,027,561 | 644,786–1,679,667 | 11 |
Clostridium perfringens | 965,958 | 192,316–2,483,309 | 10 |
Campylobacter spp. | 845,024 | 337,031–1,611,083 | 9 |
Staphylococcus aureus | 241,148 | 72,341–529,417 | 3 |
Subtotal | | | 91 |
(Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).
Diarrhea and nausea are common symptoms of the Norovirus and Shigella. However, Shigella is most common in developing countries whereas Norovirus is seen everywhere.
Salmonella, found in bird, reptile, and mammal intestines, can...