Food Safety Tips
You can help prevent the spread of germs on surfaces in the kitchen by following some basic cleanliness steps. These steps will not only reduce germs on surfaces; they will also help protect you and your family against foodborne illness, and help prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
Read Cleaning Tips for Kitchens.
About Foodborne Illness
Foodborne illness is sometimes called "food poisoning." According to CDC, foodborne illness causes 76 million gastrointestinal illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year in the US. Foodborne illness germs are spread easily from some foods, especially raw meats and poultry, to hands or kitchen work surfaces, and in turn can be spread to other foods.
Pathogenic Bacteria: Different than Spoilage Bacteria
It's important to note that foodborne illness is caused by "pathogenic" bacteria. These are bacteria that cause disease. Pathogenic bacteria are different from "spoilage" bacteria.
- Spoilage bacteria makes food go "bad." When food spoils, it looks or smells funny or unappetizing. But while spoilage bacteria will make food unappealing, they would probably not make you sick.
- Pathogenic bacteria can't be seen, smelled or tasted. You cannot tell if a food contains pathogenic bacteria, but they are the bacteria that can make you sick.
Common Foodborne Illnesses
- Salmonella: Causes salmonellosis and includes such symptoms as fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. It is spread through animal-based foods, and can cause serious infections in at-risk people.
- E. coli O157:H7: This illness is spread by food, especially beef and hamburger meat, unpasteurized juices or water that has been contaminated. It causes severe and bloody diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps, without much fever.
- Campylobacter : As world's largest cause of bacterial diarrheal disease, its primary sources include undercooked chicken and cross-contamination from raw chicken juices.
- Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses (also called calcivirus): These extremely common illnesses are spread person-to-person, particularly through poor hygiene habits. They cause acute gastrointestinal illness, usually with more vomiting than diarrhea and usually lasting two days.
Depending on the type of bacteria, foodborne illness symptoms can begin from one to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, and may range from a mild stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea to severe illness. For those with weak immune systems, illness can be more severe.
Link to: Special Food Safety Issues for Pregnant Women.