Contaminated Food Will Sicken an Alarming Number of People This Year
If you’ve made it this far through the year without being sickened by contaminated food, consider yourself fortunate. The odds are fairly high you will.
Thanks to pathogens like Salmonella and e. Coli, contaminated food will make one in six people sick this year. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The latest statistics from the government agency says approximately 48 million people get sick each year. To make it worse, 128,000 end up in the hospital. And 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.
Norovirus, which you’ve probably heard of on cruise ships, is the top cause of illness, with salmonella in second place. Those two pathogens reverse slots when you’re talking about which ones are most responsible for sending people to the hospital as Salmonella takes the first spot.
Salmonella, which is a bacteria, is also the number one cause of foodborne deaths.
The parasite Toxoplasmosis comes in second place. Becoming sick from Toxoplasmosis generally results from eating undercooked, contaminated meat — especially pork, lamb, and venison — or cross-contamination from handling contaminated meat and not washing hands or utensils thoroughly.
The third-most common cause of death among contaminated food pathogens is the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria cases have been traced to everything from cheese, milk, ice cream, vegetables, salads and fruits.
Unfortunately, as consumers, we have, at some point, to rely on those who prepare our food to have done everything they should have to make sure our dinners (and breakfasts and lunches, for that matter) are safe.
But it’s virtually impossible to prevent every possibility of contamination that could, at the very least, upset your stomach.
I recently swore off a certain restaurant that’s conveniently close to my home because all of a sudden, they seem to have forgotten how to thoroughly cook hamburger patties. I would bite into their cheeseburger and find hamburger meat that was far too pink for my standards. After this happened for the third time in a row, I walked back inside and demanded a refund, telling the manager that I was done with them.
Undercooked meat is just one way you can get sick. Recently, that same restaurant chain had to temporarily halt salad sales at roughly 3,000 impacted restaurants in 13 states where multiple people have reported getting sick. The culprit seems to be lettuce contaminated with a parasite that has caused more than 100 cases of cyclosporiasis.
Even eating healthy these days comes with the same risks of foodborne illness as downing a burger.
With foodborne illness so common these days, there’s a good chance contaminated food is already sitting in your refigerator.
That’s a scary thought, but a reminder that we should always be taking precautions to avoid illness as best we can.