Food Safety Issues Far Worse For Diabetic Shoppers

Articles
November 14, 2008

Today, November 14th, is World Diabetes Day, a day for spreading awareness to the seriousness of this disease and the proactive measures that can be taken for management and prevention of this wide spread disease that has affects 23.6 million children and adults in the United States. While it is more commonly known that diabetics must avoid diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, it is less known that food safety is also a critical issue for those suffering from this condition; which demands that retailers increase their knowledge and opens opportunity for retailers to help teach their diabetic customers shop wisely. Diabetes can leave a person more susceptible to serious foodborne illness, resulting in a lengthier illness, hospitalization, or even death. Campylobacteriosis is four times more common and salmonellosis three times more common in persons with diabetes than in the general population. It is believed that persons with diabetes are 25 times more likely to be sickened with listeriosis. For this reason, diabetics must be especially careful in handling, preparing, and consuming foods.

Today, November 14th, is World Diabetes Day, a day for spreading awareness to the seriousness of this disease and the proactive measures that can be taken for management and prevention of this wide spread disease that has affects 23.6 million children and adults in the United States.

While it is more commonly known that diabetics must avoid diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, it is less known that food safety is also a critical issue for those suffering from this condition; which demands that  retailers increase their knowledge and opens opportunity for retailers to help teach their diabetic customers shop wisely.

Diabetes can leave a person more susceptible to serious foodborne illness, resulting in a lengthier illness, hospitalization, or even death. Campylobacteriosis is four times more common and salmonellosis three times more common in persons with diabetes than in the general population.  It is believed that persons with diabetes are 25 times more likely to be sickened with listeriosis. For this reason, diabetics must be especially careful in handling, preparing, and consuming foods.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has prepared a booklet to provide guidance on how to avoid food safety danger for diabetics (you can download from SupermarketGuru Resources). Although the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 million persons get sick, 325,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from foodborne infection and illness in the United States each year. Many of these people are very young, very old, or have weakened immune systems and may not be able to fight infection normally.
 
The USDA's booklet takes an in-depth look at where pathogens come from, but in general, these pathogens can most likely come from uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables and animal products such as unpasteurized milk, soft cheese, raw eggs, raw meat, raw poultry, raw fish, raw seafood and their juices. The risks of these foods is dependent on their origin or source, how they are prepared, stored and processed.
 
In this free downloadable booklet, the USDA provides charts on common food risks and how to lower risks, handling and preparing food safely, recommended safe minimum internal temperatures for cooking foods, and a cold storage safety chart.  In addition, the booklet provides guidelines for better shopping practices. Here are the recommendations for diabetic shoppers:
 
• Carefully read food labels while in the store to make sure food is not past its "sell by" date. (See Food Product Dating at right.)
• Put raw packaged meat, poultry, or seafood into a plastic bag before placing it in the shopping cart, so that its juices will not drip on - and contaminate - other foods.
• Buy only pasteurized milk, cheese, and other dairy products from the refrigerated section. When buying fruit juice from the refrigerated section of the store, be sure that the juice label says it is pasteurized.
• Purchase eggs in the shell from the refrigerated section of the store. (Note: store the eggs in their original carton in the main part of your refrigerator once you are home.) For recipes that call for eggs that
are raw or undercooked when the dish is served - Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two examples - use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella by pasteurization,
or pasteurized egg products. When consuming raw eggs, using pasteurized eggs is the safer choice.
• Never buy food that is displayed in unsafe or unclean conditions.
• When purchasing canned goods, make sure that they are free of dents, cracks, or bulging lids. (Once you are home, remember to clean each lid before opening the can.)
 
Also, here are some guidelines for shoppers in understanding food product dating:
 
Types of Open Dates
• A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
• A "Best If Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
• A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
"Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.
 
Follow these tips for safe transporting of  groceries:
• Pick up perishable foods last, and plan to go directly home from the grocery store.
• Always refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing.
• Refrigerate within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 °F.
• In hot weather, take a cooler with ice or another cold source to transport foods safely.

Every food retailer needs to make their employees aware of the increased food safety risks for this population, and we hope that now that the USDA has done the work to produce this booklet, retailers make it available to their diabetic customers as well as using it as a lesson plan to create in store tours and seminars.