Protect Yourself From Food-Borne Illness
E. coli bacteria gets the headlines, but the CDC estimates that there are more than 250 food-borne diseases causing as many as 80 million cases of food poisoning each year.
Food-borne illness isn’t a seasonal problem, but many of our favorite summertime foods — and the ways we prepare them — serve up the perfect opportunity for the nearly 80 million cases of food poisoning that occur each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these cases cause little more than some temporary abdominal cramps, mild diarrhea and/or vomiting, but some food-borne illnesses cause severe diarrhea, liver disease or neurologic complications, resulting in nearly 5,000 deaths each year.
Most cases of food poisoning result from ingesting Norwalk viruses or bacteria such as salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni or E. coli. (There are hundreds of strains of E. coli: Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli causes the most cases of traveler’s diarrhea, and E. coli 0157:H7 was responsible for a rash of deaths in 1993 among children who ate hamburgers at a fast-food chain.)
The classic examples of summertime food poisoning caused by bacteria result from time and temperature abuse — the undercooked burger taken off the barbecue too early, or the potato salad that’s been left in the sun too long. Bacteria aren’t the only problem. Other food-borne illnesses are caused by bacteria and viruses that are passed on unwashed hands.
(Part #2 and conclusion to follow)