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What do beef, peanuts, chicken, chocolate chip cookie dough, alfalfa sprouts and dry spices all have in common? They’re among food products that have been recalled in recent years due to safety concerns, such as contamination with E. coli and salmonella.
There are an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness each year in the U.S., yet experts say the vast majority go unreported or are not traced back to the source. According to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus and salmonella have been among the leading causes of foodborne disease outbreaks. Foodborne outbreaks of norovirus occur most often when infected food handlers don’t wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet, the CDC says, while salmonella outbreaks occur most often after foods contaminated with animal feces are eaten raw or are insufficiently cooked.
Poultry, leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts were the food commodities associated with the largest number of illnesses, the CDC found. And according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, frozen processed foods — such as potpies — have also been a source of foodborne illness in recent years.
While various government agencies and the food producers themselves try to ensure that the food supply is safe, some experts argue that there are so many variables in today’s global food-supply chain that consumers would be smart to take more responsibility for food safety themselves.
It’s Up to You
One thing you can do to keep you and your family safe is pay attention to food recalls. The government and food companies alert the public to problems, but many consumers do not take heed. In fact, a recent survey found that only about 60 percent of Americans have ever looked around their homes for recalled foods, and more than 10 percent said they had eaten a food they thought had been recalled. Researchers say the survey results suggest that most Americans view recalls as important, but not particularly relevant to them personally.
Food Safety Tips
You can also reduce your risk for foodborne illness by handling, preparing and storing foods properly. The USDA offers basic guidelines to keep foods safe:
For more detailed information and tips — and an up-to-the-minute list of recently recalled foods — visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov.
While we hope you find this website helpful, please remember that Sharp HealthCare does not control or endorse the information found on this site, nor does this website endorse the information found on www.sharp.com.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's nutrition services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about nutrition, read the Nutrition News archive.