Fight Foodborne Illnesses

April 06, 2016

In 2011, the FDA launched a food safety website with some of the information you need to know, find out what else you need to know here

To celebrate and bring attention to the Food and Drug Administration’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts website, SupermarketGuru wanted to remind you about food safety in the kitchen and point out some of the most common foodborne illnesses. The FDA’s website mandated by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law in January, 2011 includes a searchable table that organizes information from news releases (press releases) by date, product brand name, product description, reason for the recall, and the recalling firm. Check it out for the latest FDA recalls, but keep in mind that the FDA does not regulate the safety of meat, poultry or eggs.

So how to keep your kitchen clean? First off, always wash your hands with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds before handling and preparing food. Repeat after handling raw meat, and before eating.

Spray your stove and oven spills with an all-purpose cleaner, let stand for around ten minutes for easier cleaning. Because most of us regularly heat the oven to over 400 degrees, oven spills aren’t a food hazard; cover fresh spills with salt until you have time to clean.

Don't ignore the sink, drain and faucet handle. Clean these key items regularly with household cleanser, especially after washing or rinsing raw meat. If you hand-wash dishes, air drying in a dish rack is the best choice as a dirty or wet dish towel can re-contaminate clean dishes. Change dish towels at least daily, sponges can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher at the end of every day to sanitize.

Remember to wipe down your refrigerator handle every day. Throw out anything that's past its date or looks rotten weekly. Every few months, empty the shelves and clean the inside, remember to remove drawers and wipe down around them. Wipe food jars to remove drips before putting them back in the fridge.

Keep in mind cross-contamination; we all know not to put cooked food on the same surface you used for raw food, but it goes even further than cutting boards – be careful not to touch items around the kitchen like the salt and pepper shaker or cabinet handles while handling raw food.

So now we know how to keep a kitchen clean and where to look for food safety recalls but what are some of the most common pathogens that make us sick? There are more than 200 known diseases that can be transmitted through food; it’s estimated that one in five Americans gets a foodborne illness every year. Here are some of the most common according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Salmonella, typically from undercooked meats or eggs, milk, cheese, produce. Symptoms can include headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, fever and loss of appetite. Symptoms can appear six to 72 hours after eating, and last two or three days.

Campylobacter is typically carried on poultry, milk, or water. Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain, followed by diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea. Symptoms appear 2 - 5 days after eating and may last up to 10 days
Unfortunately there are hundreds of different strains of E. coli; it has been found in raw and undercooked meats, cheeses, lettuce and other produce, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, raw fish and more. Symptoms can include severe abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes fever or worse. Symptoms usually appear within 1 - 8 days after ingestion.

Hepatitis A can come from any food not cooked after handling, raw or undercooked shellfish or from contaminated waters. Symptoms can included but are not limited to abrupt fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine and joint aches and usually occur within 15 - 50 days of infection.

Listeria is mainly found in meat and poultry, but can also be found on vegetables and fruit, and in milk and cheese. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, delirium, shock and lesions on vital organs. Can cause miscarriage in pregnant women and brain damage to newborns.

Sources of Staphylococcus aureus include contaminated, ready-to-eat, high-protein foods such as meat, poultry and dairy products that haven’t been kept properly cooled.

Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, subnormal temperature and lowered blood pressure; and can appear within 30 minutes to seven hours of eating. May last one or two days.