As the recent nationwide ban on Romaine lettuce by the CDC shows, harmful pathogens have become an ever-increasing threat in our food supply, causing serious illness and even death among people with weaker immune systems such as young children and older adults. In 2011, the CDC estimated that each year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne illness. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued approximately 95 food recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts involving foodborne illness during 2018. That is almost 2 per week, and many have affected people in multiple states.
Stop Foodborne Illness, a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens, has put together a list of things you can do to be knowledgeable about foodborne illness and help keep you and your family safe in 2019.
1. Sign up to get free email alerts when food recalls are declared. Stop Foodborne Illness regularly posts information about new food recalls: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/take-action/sign-up-for-e-alerts/
2. Learn what foodborne illness is: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/common-questions-about-foodborne-illness-2/
3. Learn about common foodborne pathogens: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/pathogens/
4. Learn about symptoms, causes and treatments: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/what-is-foodborne-illness/
5. Learn about others’ experiences: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/stories/.
6. Learn how to cook safely and kill harmful pathogens before they reach the dinner table: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/safe-cooking-temperatures-2/
7. Learn how to maintain a food-safe kitchen: https://www.newsline360.com/stopfoodborneillness/pr_view/6347?&&hlan=cross+contamination
8. Encourage your school district to teach children about foodborne illness: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/teacher-resources/
9. Know who to contact if you or your family members contract foodborne illness. If it is serious, don’t be shy—call 9-1-1. When you visit your doctor or clinic, make sure you encourage them to consider a foodborne pathogen as the cause of the symptoms.
10. Learn more about food safety resources available in your state: http://www.stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/food-safety-by-state/
11. Learn how to shop safely at farmers markets: https://www.newsline360.com/stopfoodborneillness/pr_view/6306?&&hlan=farmers+markets
12. Learn how to pack food-safe school lunches: https://www.newsline360.com/stopfoodborneillness/pr_view/6397?&&hlan=school+lunch