There have been several outbreaks of food-borne illnesses that received national attention in the past year, but are the pathogens that receive the most media attention the biggest culprits that sicken consumers? This week, we take a look back at the top causes of food-borne illness.
Common Food-Borne Illnesses and the ServSafe Food Manager
Now that the data from 2016 has been compiled, we’ve learned some interesting things about food-borne illness trends. The top four causes of illnesses in 2016 included:
- E. coli
While Salmonella and E. coli dominate the news cycle whenever there an outbreak happens, the number one cause of food-borne illness generally goes unreported. Campylobacter causes fever, nausea and abdominal pain and most commonly effect small children and young adults. We hear very little about this bacterium because serious cases rarely happen and only a few long-term complications can occur. Although rare, some of the more serious cases of infection have been linked to appendicitis and arthritic-like symptoms. Campylobacter contaminates food that has come into contact with animal or human fecal matter and commonly comes from chicken and poultry products. It also exists on unwashed fruits and vegetables that grow where a chicken manure based fertilizer is used or food product that is handled by unclean hands.
Shigella bacterium sometimes causes serious symptoms and is closely related to dysentery. Studies show that as little as 100 ingested bacteria can lead to symptoms, making Shigella the easiest contracted food-borne illness when present in food. ServSafe food managers must train their staff diligently to prevent the spread of Shigella since severe cases can cause seizures, intense abdominal pain and a risk of death in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Proper hand washing reduces the risk of the spread of Shigella, and those that contract it should be aware that it spreads for weeks after symptoms have dissipated.
Modern data collection and the reporting of illness statistics gives us a wider view of health concerns that result from improper food handling. Are there any rarely covered issues that you’d like us to address in a future article?