Food Safety Magazine came out with a fascinating article last week (the first in a series of three), titled The Tragedy of Foodborne Illness: Much Is Preventable.
According to the article, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that over 3,000 people die each year in the U.S. from foodborne illness. That is an average of eight people per day. An estimated 128,000 people are hospitalized each year. That is an average of 350 people per day.
The numbers are incredible when you think about it. How is that OK?!
One of the parts of the article that should shock you most:
Unfortunately, many restaurant food handlers are not following best food safety practices. As a result, according to CDC 48% of food borne illness is traced to restaurants.
While following simple food safety rules – such as a food handler staying home when sick, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables, cooking meat properly, and watching time and temperature rules – can prevent many epidemics … it still doesn’t tell the entire story. Pests and vermin in restaurants can also be the cause of many illnesses. Cockroaches in a kitchen can lead to gastroenteritis-related illnesses such as food poisoning and dysentery. Flies are noted for their propensity to spread Salmonella, but also carry and distribute Shigella and Escherichia coli (E. coli), the bacteria responsible for illnesses like dysentery and E. coli-based food poisoning.
Have you ever experienced an unfortunate bout of Salmonella or “food poisoning” after eating out? Salmonellosis is just one bacterium that rodents can carry and pass along to humans through food contamination. The CDC reports of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV) and Rat-Bite Fever (Haverhill fever) as well as other serious illnesses that can result from rodent-to-food-to human transmission, such as the more rare and sometimes fatal Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) and Hantavirus (Pulmonary Syndrome).
Following all of the food safety rules listed above is a start to preventing foodborne illnesses, but so much more needs to be done. While some restaurants are proactive, most are unfortunately not… which is why we have created PFE. PFE identified the need for greater accountability, and developed a comprehensive plan designed for responsible, concerned restaurant owners who want to be proactive. PFE-Verified restaurant owners want their customers to know that they are taking the extra step to insure the safety and well being of their patrons.