Foodborne Illness

Is foodborne illness a problem we need to worry about? YES!!

Foodborne illness is a serious illness. To prevent foodborne illness we probably need to change certain behaviors. Everyone benefits from food safety education.

Reducing the incidence of foodborne illness is one of today’s most important public issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that approximately 1 in 6 Americans or 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 each year from foodborne diseases. The Economic Research Service USDA estimate a cost of $6.9 billion dollars associated with 5 pathogens (2000).

For some people, foodborne illness is quite serious. Because they can’t fight infections as easily as healthy adults or don’t recover as easily from dehydration, foodborne illness can be fatal for:

  • Elderly people
  • Young children
  • Pregnant women
  • The immune impaired

The CDC reports that the biggest problems of food mishandling were:

  • Cross-contamination (from raw to cooked foods or from hands to food (See “Handwashing” and “Cutting Boards”).
  • Temperature abuse - holding food for too long in a temperature range where bacteria can grow (between 40°F and 140°F).
  • Under-cooking such that disease-causing bacteria are not killed (See “Meat Temperature Chart”).