Food Contamination

The Center for Disease control has estimated that illnesses directly resulting from food contamination cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year in the United States. The rise of food-related illnesses can be mostly attributed to increased eating out. Half of every dollar spent on food in this country is spend on food prepared outside of the home. As the amount of people involved preparing our food rises, so does the risk of contracting an illness from food (Levitt). The people at the greatest risk are the elderly, infants, pregnant women, and those with immune disorders; this high risk group comprises 25 percent of the US population. (Who).
To prevent food contamination, the food must be handled carefully, and not be placed in any condition that would promote bacterial growth. Those who have a job that involves preparing and serving food have the responsibility to protect those whom they handle the food for (Cliver). Food poisoning results from the growth of certain bacteria, and is a concern of the business as well as the consumer. A single case of food poisoning can instantly cause a restaurant to no longer exist. To prevent contamination which might result in illness, chopping boards should be sanitized thoroughly and frequently. The employees hands should also be washed regularly. It is acceptable to handle raw food with bare hands, however with cooked or ready to eat food disposable gloves or other utensils such as spoons, spatulas, or tongs should be used. Latex gloves should be changed at least once every hour or if they become torn or contaminated. It is never acceptable to reuse gloves after they have been removed once (Public Health).
A common source of food poisoning is cross contamination.This occurs when raw food mixes with cooked food (Hollingsworth). It can happen when the same utensil or surface is used in food preparation. Fecal Materials can also contaminate food before it reaches the one who prepares it (E. Coli Now).
One of the most common causes of food poisoning is Campylobacter bacteria, manifesting 8 million cases and 800 deaths each year (Cliver). It is the leading cause of diarrheal illness in the United States, and responsible for five to fourteen percent of all diarrheal illness worldwide. Poultry and beef are the most common carriers. Nausea, vomiting, tiredness, and fever are some of the symptoms. The leading cause of acute paralysis in the US is Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS); a Campylobacter infection can cause GBS. GBSs primary symptom is progressive paralysis, and it can lead to respiratory failure as well as death (National Institutes). Campylobacter is carried by as much as 39 percent of the cattle population (MacKenzie).

Another common source of food poisoning is Escherichia Coli; also referred to as E. coli. It can be carried through beef, poultry, other meats, fruits, and vegetables, including alfalfa sprouts. This bacteria can be treated effectively with chlorine and food irradiation (Lowe). Harmful E. coli produces toxins that damage the lining of the intestine; can cause stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and anemia; and can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can lead to kidney failure, and is the most common cause of kidney failure in American children. E. coli is also a frequent cause of urinary, genital, and intestinal tract infections (National Institutes).
Salmonella bacteria causes headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and intestinal distress (National Institutes). It is present in 34.6 percent of all ground turkey, 4.8 percent of all ground beef, and 8.7 percent of all pork (FSIS). Salmonella typhimurium and Salmonella enteritidis are the most common types of Salmonella which annually effect 1.4 million people in the US.Salmonella can escape the intestine and spread to the other organs through the blood (National Institutes).

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Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria found in soil and water, and causes the infection Listeriosis.This bacteria can be ingested by humans through fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products (Preventing Foodborne). The symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, loss of balance, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea.The disease is especially harmful because it can spread to the nervous system (Listeriosis).

There are different regulatory agencies in the United States. In 1997 President Clinton issued food reforms that effected the nations food supply.Awareness has been raised as a result, and the number of food-related diseases has decreased.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are the major regulators of our nations food supply. Other agencies that play a part in regulating food include: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the state and local government.Most outbreaks of food contamination are handled by local governments.The State government gets involved if the outbreak seems to be spreading, and the FDA and CDC get involved when the outbreak covers a multi-state area (HHS Initiaties).

The severity of food contamination should not be underestimated. Although the food in the United Stated is among the safest in the world, errors that cause contamination continue to be a problem.5,000 deaths annually is ridiculous for a nation of our technology.The death toll can easily be reduced by heightened awareness, education, and stricter legislation as well as enforcement.The World Health Organization regards food-related illness as one of the most widespread problems of the contemporary world.

Works Cited
Electric Library. Joseph A. Levitt. Food Safety. 2000. 17 Jan. 2001
Who Resource. The WHO Golden Rules for Safe Food Preparation. 2000. 17 Jan. 2001
Electric Library. Dean O. Cliver. Food Poisoning. 2001. 16 Jan. 2001.
Public Health Division. Hygienic Food Preparation and Handling. 2000. 16 Jan. 2001.
Electric Library. Ann Hollingsworth. Food Safety. 2000. 18 Jan. 2001.
Electric Library. E. Coli Now in Our Alfalfa Sprouts? Vol. 21, Medical Update, 1998. 17 Jan.
National Institutes of Health. Foodborne Diseases. 2000. 27 Jan 2001.
New Scientist. Debora MacKenzie. A Quick DNA Test Seeks Out a Dangerous Bacteria That
Lurk In Food. 1999. 18 Jan. 2001.
ARS News and Information. Doris Stanley Lowe. Food Irradiation and Chlorine Team Up to
Kill E. coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella 1999. 18 Jan. 2001.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. FSIS. HACCP Implementation: First Year Salmonella Test
Results. 1999. 17 Jan. 2001.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing Foodborne Illness: Listeriosis. 2000.
8 Jan. 2001.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Listeriosis. 2000. 18 Jan 2001.
Electric Library. HHS Initiaties to Reduce Foodborne Illness. 1999. 18 Jan. 2001.