The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 48 million, or one in six Americans, will become sick from tainted food this year; 3000 will die. In a report that was made public in December 2010, scientists said the statistics do not offer insight or guidance into how to prevent major outbreaks. Knowing the food source that is linked with the disease is key in answering questions around, for example, how much salmonella is coming from pork vs. beef, chicken or eggs. Researchers admit that little is known about foodborne illnesses. In fact, four-fifths of foodborne illnesses reported each year are caused by “unspecified agents” that may include pathogens or chemicals in food that have not been discovered or identified as the cause of illnesses.
Despite the large number of Americans who are sickened every year by tainted food, there are a number of simple things you and your family members can do to avoid becoming a statistic:
1. When shopping, always check the freshness date on the product to make sure that you are not buying spoiled food.
2. Use care when buying pre-ground hamburger, as this cut of meat can easily become contaminated with fecal matter from cows.
3. Always thoroughly wash and drain fresh vegetables and fruit before use.
4. Buy your groceries from reputable stores that have a high turn-over of food items, as your chances of buying safe, fresh food are increased.
5. Use two different cutting boards, one for meat and another for fruits and vegetables. Clean cutting boards with hot, soapy water after use. Wash your hands before and after preparing foods.
6. Trust your senses. If the food looks or smells bad, don’t eat it!
7. If possible, keep hot food at 150 degrees and cold food under 40 degrees. Foods prepared with mayonnaise are especially susceptible to bacterial growth in the summertime heat.
By following these easy tips for preparing food, you can reduce the risk of exposing yourself and your family to foodborne illnesses. However, if you or a family member experience the symptoms of food poisoning, nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, fever, fatigue, or abdominal or stomach pain/cramps, you should see your physician or go to the emergency room to be evaluated. If possible, save a sample of the food that you suspect may be the cause of your illness. If you believe you have been sickened by food you have consumed at a restaurant, or at a public or private gathering , call your local health department to report your illness and check whether others who may have eaten at same restaurant have made reports. Although the majority of food poisoning cases cause mild symptoms, food poisoning can be life-threatening.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a foodborne illness, have been hospitalized or have sustained a serious injury from tainted food, please call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Henry Hanflik. We can help you now!