One in six Americans will have a food borne illness each year. This is an estimate, because not all cases are reported. In fact, for Camphylobacter, for each reported case there are as many as thirty unreported case. Most of this can be prevented.
Packing House Horror: Let’s face it. Our meat packing houses are not producing safe meat. Report after report shows that the food we buy hasn’t been properly handled from the slaughterhouse to the packing plant. The presence of fecal matter isn’t just a “yuck” factor. Fecal matter often contains things that cause food poisoning.
What is food poisoning? There are quite a few things that cause food poisoning. The most well-known by the consumer are e. coli, salmonella, camphylobacter and listeria. They don’t all cause the same symptoms, though a lot of it is digestive in nature. In fact, there is a good chance that when you have “stomach flu” you actually have some form of food poisoning.
What am I risking? Aside from a very uncomfortable time and missed work or school, there are other things you are at risk for. Dehydration is the primary problem because it is difficult to hold anything down…including fluids. In the very young and the very old this can be fatal fast.
With listeria, the risk is for unborn children. If a pregnant woman catches it early in the pregnancy a miscarriage can occur. If it is caught later, it can cause stillbirth, premature birth or a potentially fatal infection after the child is born. E. Coli can cause serious kidney problems.
How can I be sure I’m safe? There are several steps to ensuring safe food. Cooking thoroughly is important. So is keeping different types of meat separate, thoroughly washing hands, knives, cutting boards and anything else the meat has touched and putting it away quickly. Don’t pile meat on top of other items. It’s best to keep it on the bottom shelf or in a separate drawer in the refrigerator.
What if I get food poisoning? It’s very important that you see the doctor and report the problem. If there are a number of cases tied to the same produce, a recall will be ordered. That could prevent others from becoming ill.
There is one other thing you can do. We pay for the USDA to do a job and it’s not getting done. Write letters or call officials and demand a crackdown. We shouldn’t be buying unsafe meat.