Potentially Deadly Food Pathogens You Should Know About—and 9 Ways You Can Avoid Them
AlterNet / By Jodie Gummow
More than half of U.S food poisoning cases are traced to unsanitary restaurant food handling practices.
December 13, 2013 |
If you’ve ever suffered an upset stomach after eating a meal out, you’re definitely not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 people or 48 million Americans contract food poisoning every year with an estimated 3,000 deaths attributed to foodborne illness diseases.
A new series of reports released by the CDC reveal that more than half of those cases can be traced to unhygienic food handling practices of restaurants and delis, with foodborne illnesses no longer decreasing in the United States. Bottom line? Food safety progress in our country has stalled.
In compiling the data, researchers analyzed kitchen practices of hundreds of restaurants across the United States, identifying two main causes of foodborne illness:
The storage and preparation of ground beef, chicken and leafy greens.
80 percent of workers did not regularly cook with meat thermometers and only 43 percent of managers knew the temperature to cook chicken so it is served safely. Even more disturbing, only 65 percent of restaurants rejected greens that looked decomposed. This is despite the fact that many greens came in at temperatures above the FDA standard 41 degrees Fahrenheit guidelines.
The hygiene practices of sick food workers.
40 percent of restaurants don’t enforce hand-washing policies for kitchen workers or designate cutting boards for raw poultry and 20 percent of workers admitted coming to work when they were sick with vomiting or diarrhea because they couldn’t afford to take a sick day .
According to Dr. Harry A. Milman, consulting toxicologist and president of ToxNetwork.com, part of the problem stems from the quick turnover of staff in restaurants and the increase in temporary employees which hinders adequate kitchen training. He told AlterNet:
“The quality of the food, the manner of preparation and how sanitary the techniques used plays a large role in food poisoning. It’s imperative to train workers so that they know how to prepare food. Many of these restaurants take on inexperienced helpers, do not have good training facilities and have an extremely fast turnaround. In turn, health safety gets lost in the process.”
Milman says the most typical foods to be concerned about include shellfish, chicken and leafy greens, and foodborne illnesses related to bacterial contamination from food preparation:
“The classic cases that come before me emanate from food buffets. The problem with buffets is that all the food is paired together. The larger amounts of food you need to prepare, the more it tends to sit around and be subject to cross contamination. The question then becomes, how long has this food been sitting around at room temperature, which ultimately allows bacteria to grow at a much faster rate.” (Read Full Article)