As a Food Handler or Manager, you constantly hear about the importance of following the correct food safety procedures to prevent foodborne illnesses. But at some point, you may have wondered why it is so important to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Here are the basics to understanding the impact of foodborne illnesses and why we put such an emphasis on food safety.
What is a foodborne illness?
According to the World Health Organization, foodborne illnesses are diseases caused by eating food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals.
There are over 200 identified foodborne diseases, but the most common are known as the Big 6—Salmonella, Typhoid, E. coli, Norovirus, and Hepatitis A.
How do contaminants get into food and cause a foodborne illness?
Food can be contaminated at any stage of production, delivery, or consumption.
Who is impacted by foodborne illnesses?
The CDC estimates that 48 million people contract a foodborne illness each year in the United States, with 128,000 hospitalized and 3,000 deaths.
Anyone can get a foodborne illness, but the most at-risk groups include:
- The elderly
- Young children
- Immunocompromised or those with preexisting conditions
- Pregnant women
What are the symptoms of foodborne illnesses?
Symptoms vary between different foodborne illnesses, but here are the most common symptoms:
- Upset stomach or stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
When should I see a doctor?
Most foodborne illnesses just take time. However, you should see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Fever over 102°F
- Frequent vomiting
- Signs of dehydration
- Diarrhea lasting for more than 3 days