How likely is it that food will make you sick this year?
48 Million Americans will get a Foodborne Illness this Year
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 48 million Americans become ill each year, on average, from a foodborne containment. That is more than 14% of the U.S. population. (https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden).You have a 1 in 8 chance of becoming ill from unsafe food.
Foodborne illnesses occur both within homes and within the Food Service industry of grocers, convenient stores and restaurants. In Spring 2018, five people died, and more than 190 people became ill after eating contaminated romaine lettuce. The contaminated lettuce was purchased in grocery stores for home use and used by a few restaurants.
For the Food Service industry, containments are expensive and damaging for their businesses, especially in this era of social media. According to Francine Shaw in her article for Convenient Store News (https://csnews.com/staggering-costs-foodborne-illness-incidents) the cost of Food Safety is staggering. Fortune magazine has stated that Food Service businesses spend over $55 Billion a year on food safety.
Ms. Shaw stated, “The expense, time and energy necessary to implement — or elevate — your store’s food safety protocols won’t be overwhelming, and it’s crucial to keeping your guests and your business safe.”
Seven Questions to Ask:
Before you buy food ask your grocer or restaurant if they take these simple steps to help insure your safety:
1. Is food safety part of their company’s culture? Have all employees been trained in proper food safety protocols.
2. Do they use current technological solutions? Today’s tech tools can help enhance food safety. Automated temperature monitoring using smartphones is the latest tech to ensure that food never heads towards the “Danger Zone” of contamination.
3. Do they use mobile devices and apps? Various companies are providing downloadable apps that improve the way foodservice employees conduct inspections, conduct training, access food code information, and more. In 2018, critical food safety information can literally be at a manager’s fingertips.
4. Are they clean? Be sure the business is clean and sanitized. If the restrooms are neglected, how assured are you that the kitchen is not neglected in cleanliness. Also inspect dumpster and garbage areas. If these areas are neglected, rodents, bugs and other vermin can infect the cleanliness of the business.
5. Are proper food temperatures maintained? Do they keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot?
6. Do they protect ready-to-eat food items that come in contact with the general public? Are there sneeze guards over foods like hot dogs, and are condiment dispensers covered?
7. Do their employees work while they are ill? A sick worker can expose hundreds of customers to a norovirus (highly contagious) by being in contact with food they are preparing, serving, or clearing, and by touching surfaces. No matter how busy or potentially short-staffed the business is, they need to prohibit employees from working when they are sick.
Food Service businesses have no desire to cause their customers to become sick. However, a lack of safety protocols can make you one of the 12% who will become sick this year. Be pro-active and ask what the business you patronize is doing to protect your safety.
There is a greater chance of getting sick from the food you buy than winning the lottery, being bitten by a shark, being struck by lightning, or even getting in a car accident this year. What can you do to lessen your risk?