The latest statistics released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 48 million Americans get sick every year with foodborne illnesses. Approximately 128,000 of them are hospitalized and 3,000 die. According to the CDC:
Produce is the most common contributor to foodborne illnesses, accounting for 46% of them between 1998 and 2008, followed by meat and poultry, dairy and eggs and fish and shellfish.
[list icon=”fa-flask”]Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the USA, followed by Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter spp. and Staphylococcus aureus. [/list]
[list icon=”fa-flask”]Shiga toxin-producing E. coli 026 – associated with a major recent outbreak in a US fast food chain – is far less common. This strain causes diarrhoea and vomiting and can lead to kidney failure. In the recent outbreak 21 of the 55 ill people were hospitalized. The E. coli 0157 strain is far more deadly. [/list]
[list icon=”fa-flask”]US infections with E. coli O157 in 2014 decreased 32% when compared with 2006-2008. There has been no change in the number of overall Salmonella cases in 2014 versus 2006-2008. Campylobacter infections increased 13% during that time.[/list]
The CDC advises frequent hand washing and washing of surfaces where food is prepared is critical. Cooking food thoroughly is another key way to prevent illness: a food thermometer should be used to determine when an item is done and food should be kept at a temperature of 60°C (140°F) after cooking because bacteria can grow as it begins to cool. Microwaved foods should reach 75°C or higher. Perishable items should be refrigerated promptly and raw meat and eggs should always be prepared separately from other foods.