Food poisoning is a major cause of illness in the United States and beyond. Around 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from food poisoning. There are many different types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause foodborne illness, but the eight major pathogens identified by the CDC for causing the majority of food poisoning cases are:
- Salmonella - most severe in pregnant women, older adults, those with weakened immune systems, and younger children; Salmonella is the most common bacteria cause of diarrhea. Salmonella is prevalent in eggs, poultry and ground beef that are raw or undercooked, as well as contaminated fruits and veggies (the most commonly infected are sprouts and melons), as well as unpasteurized dairy. To prevent salmonella, cook food thoroughly to the recommended temperatures. Wash produce before peeling, cutting, or eaten. Clean kitchen surfaces carefully.
- E. coli - Most strains of E. coli are harmless, but some can make you quite ill. Sources include eating raw or undercooked ground beef or drinking unpasteurized beverages or dairy products. To prevent E. coli infection, wash your hands, cook meat (especially ground meat) and poultry thoroughly; avoid unpasteurized dairy products, juices or ciders; keep cooking surfaces clean; and prevent cross-contamination.
- Listeria - Listeria is found in refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, deli meats, unpasteurized milk, raw sprouts, dairy products and raw and undercooked meat, poultry and seafood. Listeriosis infections can affect an unborn baby, so pregnant women especially should avoid these foods or microwave them until steaming to kill the bacteria.
- Staph - Staphylococcus aureus (staph) is commonly found on the skin, throats and nostrils of healthy people and animals. Therefore, it usually doesn't cause illness unless it is transmitted to food products where it can multiply and produce harmful toxins. Staphylococcal toxins are heat resistant and cannot be destroyed by cooking. Wash hands with soap and water, do not prepare or serve food if you have a nose or eye infection or if you have wounds or skin infections on your hands or wrists. Keep the kitchen area clean and keep foods out of the danger zone.
Practicing safe food handling is the most important way to prevent foodborne illness. To help remove pathogens from all types of foods, as well as to clean utensils, pots and pans and your kitchen, check out CitroBio Fresh Food Wash on Amazon.