We haven’t heard a lot lately about food borne illness, but the fact is, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from contaminated food each year. Most cases aren’t reported, as the person recovers on their own without treatment, but about 130,000 are hospitalized each year, with 3,000 deaths.
Pregnant women and children under the age of 5 are most susceptible. I’ve cared for many pregnant women who thought that soft cheese was safe and developed listeriosis.
Another patient comes to mind, who developed salmonella after eating chicken in a restauarant. I’ve cared for children who went into septic shock with kidney failure after drinking juice contaminated with e.coli. These are the kinds of events that are difficult to forget. I myself developed camphylobacter after eating contaminated baby back ribs. It wasn’t fun.
The best prevention at home is good hand washing while preparing food, wiping down counters, not using a cutting board, plate or bowl that has had raw meat in it for cooked food and rinsing fruits, vegetables and meat before cooking.
What to avoid in pregnancy:
- Raw or undercooked meat
- Raw fish
- Soft cheese, such as brie, Mexican queso fresco. Even if they are pasteurized, they can still contain bacteria
- Also, be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables well before eating them
Here’s a quick recap of recent food recalls:
- In August, more than half a billion eggs were recalled when more than 1,000 people became sick with Salmonella. This was the largest egg recall in U.S. history.
- In January, 1.26 million pounds of sausage and salami products from Daniele International Inc. were recalled after a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella.
- Then in February, the same company recalled another 115,000 pounds of salami and salami products due to another possible Salmonella contamination
I’m all in favor of tighter regulations, more inspections and better quality control.
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