Food Poisoning Essay

Food Contamination and Poisoning You know when eating some kind of food, and it doesn’t taste right, look right or smell right? That means it could be contaminated with a dangerous substance that could harm the body. Food poisoning is the result of ingesting organisms or toxins in food. Food poisoning can affect one person, or it can occur as an outbreak among several people who all ate the same thing. Even though food poisoning is quite rare in North America, food poisoning affects 60 to 80 million people each year, and 6 to 8 million die from it each year.

It is an ever-present threat that can be prevented ? with proper care and handling of food products. It mainly occurs at picnics, school cafeterias, or at big social events, like parties with food at them. These are all cases where food is contaminated by something, or it isn’t prepared correctly. Most of the time, people get contaminated by under-cooked meats or expired dairy products. Bacteria cause most cases of food contamination or poisoning.

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Some bacteria, which contaminate food, include Staph Aureus, E. coli enteritis, salmonella, shigella, campy lobacter, cholera, botulism, Listeria, Yersinia, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, bacillus cereus, and Staphylococcus. Children and elderly ones have a much higher chance of getting deadly symptoms from having bacteria in food, just the same as a person in a foreign country is prone to more diseases than those who reside in the country.

Symptoms of food poisoning may vary, some which include nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, or head ache, other more serious ones include respiratory distress, kidney failure, bleeding disorders, arthritis, nervous system disorders or death. All these are caused from food poisoning, which leads to food borne illnesses, which are almost the same thing but are slightly different. According to a medical dictionary, foodborne illness is an acute gastrointestinal infection caused by consuming food contaminated with pathogenic, bacteria, toxins, viruses, or parasites.

Improper food handling, preparation or storage of food caused such contamination. Contacts between food and pests, especially flies, cockroaches and rodents are a further cause of contamination of food. Foodborne illness can also be caused by adding pesticides or medicine to food or consuming or by accidentally consuming naturally poisonous substances. That is why foodborne illness can also be called food poisoning. Approximately 76 million Americans suffer from food borne illness per year and approximately 325,000 people are hospitalized with illnesses and 5,000 die.

It is estimated that ? between 24 and 81 million cases of foodborne diarrhea disease occur each year in the United States, costing between $5 billion and $17 billion in medical care and lost productivity. There have been many major outbreaks of food poisoning in the society of today. Despite increased resources devoted to food-poisoning prevention, reported incidence of food poisoning continues to rise. Improvements in prevention strategies might, therefore, be necessary and there may also be opportunities for reducing the burden of regulatory control. One major outbreak happened in 1993.

It was from the Jack in the Box restaurant. The outbreak of food borne illness was E-coli associated with the contamination of hamburger patties, was due to adulteration. It was discovered that the Jack in the Box fast food chain could have prevented the outbreak of E-coli food poisoning. They knew about the safe-cooking standards, but they chose not to follow. If they had followed the safe-cooking standards, it would have killed the E-coli bacteria in the hamburger patties. Improper food handling caused this outbreak. They did not cook the hamburger patties long enough and not at the right temperature.

Because of their undercooked hamburgers, three Washington children died and 600 were sickened by food poisoning from E-coli. Another outbreak happened on October 2000 at California. This isn’t a major outbreak like in 1993, but it affected about 250 people. The food that got contaminated was salsa at a Redwood City Mexican Restaurant. The salsa got contaminated with shigellosis. This happened because of bad practices of food handling. They found that the employees didn’t wash their hands and they didn’t supply hand-washing cleanser for the washroom.

Basically, the salsa got contaminated with shigellosis was because the restaurant was unclean. According to New York Times, there was another major outbreak in the year of 2006, whereby almost 200 American citizens were ill; this outbreak was from packaged spinach contaminated with E. coli. “If bagged salad greens are vulnerable to bacterial contamination on such a scale, industry and government would very soon come looking for a technological fix…”(New York Times). The problem started off with cow dung getting into hamburgers sold everywhere and the feces was already contaminated with

E. coli. Basically, it means the meat processors are just too lazy to clean up after processing, leaving other food items more vulnerable to more bacteria. Rather they believe it would be easier if there was a “technological fix” rather than trying to find the  “root-cause”  of all this. There are many simple ways to avoid food poisoning that are well worth the extra time and effort put in. One is simply the washing of hands often, not just when preparing food, but always. This could cut the cases of food poisonings in half and also reduce the spread of the common cold or flu.

Another way is to keep raw meats and other foods separated. Don’t ever let a cooked food come near a raw food. Use different utensils for different foods. Food should always be cooked at the proper temperature. Cook meat and poultry thoroughly. When refrigerating food, keep the temperature below four degrees Celsius. Do not leave foods out for more than two hours, in hot weather no longer than one hour. It is best to keep the fridge door closed as much as possible. The best thing to do is to become aware of cleanliness and safe cooking when preparing food.

Although not a lot of people realize it, food borne illness is a very serious issue. Food poisoning can be minor or major, however, no matter if it’s minor or major, it should still be treated the same. Foodborne illnesses can kill people. According to National Food Safety Education Month (NFSEM), there are four basic steps to prevent food contamination, and they are; Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often, Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate, Cook: Cook to proper temperatures, Chill: Refrigerate promptly. If everybody follows these four basic steps, then there wouldn’t be so many people suffering from foodborne illnesses.


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