Have you ever suffered from a food-borne ailment?
We all need to eat food, whether we eat it at home or outside. Whatever the quality (and cost) of the food, there is always a possibility that anyone can get some kind of food borne illness. This can occur no matter how and when and where. It must be rare that nobody has suffered from a food related illness at any time of their lives. Bacteria and viruses thrive on food and often food safety is compromised due to myriad reasons. Sometimes you don’t even know what is responsible for the problem.
What is worse is when foods and food products sold by reputed companies and manufacturers are recalled. This really shakes people’s confidence in bought foods, which are supposed to be safe to eat. A study conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP that consisted of an online survey showed that 57 percent of the people polled stopped eating certain foods due to recalls either temporarily or permanently. On the whole people do feel that foods in the U.S. are generally safe, though more than 50 percent do have apprehensions about food safety from meat producers and even restaurants. People also feel that foods that come from China or Mexico are not very safe.
Manufactured foods can be recalled due to a variety of reasons that include the presence of contaminants in the food, mislabeling or branding mistakes or the presence of allergens in the foods. Among recent food recalls are:
Almonds have been recalled due to high levels of cyanide.
Bean Sprouts contaminated by Listeria resulted in two deaths and three hospitalization cases.
Raw Macadamia Nuts made by various manufacturers were contaminated by Salmonella.
Mexican style dairy products were contaminated with Listeria causing at least one death.
Some products made with pre-cooked rice contained a toxin called Bacillus cereus linked to vomiting.
Fresh cilantro was contaminated with Salmonella.
Some chicken products was recalled due to contamination with Salmonella.
Gluten free chicken products recalled due to contamination with Staphylococcal enterotoxin.
The supermarket minefield
When you buy any food product at a supermarket, you probably don’t even think that it can result in serious illnesses or even death. As the list above shows, the foods can be pre-cooked or raw or even fresh and they can likely cause problems. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many products that simply do not make headlines or the list, because the incidences may slip under the radar.
Some infections can strike immediately and sometimes the contaminants result in food poisoning after 2-5 days, by which time you may not even be able to make the link between the food you ate and the illness. Listeria, for instance, can manifest between 7-30 days. Other food poisoning ailments due to different bacteria or viruses may cause an immediate reaction, which is actually better because it is easier to make the connection between food and the food poisoning and get the treatment quicker.
Usually cooking at high temperatures and for a stipulated time is enough to kill most bacteria and viruses. The presence of allergens in the food is a different matter, though as allergic reactions can often be fatal if not caught in time. And when you eat out, you really have no control over cooking conditions and other food safety measures that the restaurant or food service is supposed to maintain.