The "Get Your Food On" blog has a post about foodborne illness, and since we’re headed into spring it’s quite timely. During the spring and summer months, there is more risk of temperature abuse and cross-contamination since large, outdoor gatherings are more common. From the post:
Over 250 organisms are known to cause foodborne illnesses. The causes of foodborne illness include viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, metals, and prions, and the symptoms of foodborne illness range from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening neurologic, hepatic, and renal syndromes. In the United States, foodborne diseases have been estimated to cause 6 million to 81 million illnesses and up to 9,000 deaths each year.
Keeping track of people who actually suffer from foodborne illness is complicated by several factors. The first is that many cases are not ever reported. If you are sick, but not sick enough to see your doctor or be hospitalized, it’s unlikely you would report it to the CDC. However, the CDC requests that you do report it if you do suspect you suffered from food illness after eating at a restaurant. There are many cases where this reporting helped stop a potential serious outbreak.
A foodborne disease outbreak is defined as a group of people developing the same illnesses after ingesting the same food. If you think you or others became ill from eating the same food, please report this outbreak to your local (city or county) health department. By investigating outbreaks, public health officials learn about problems in food production that lead to illness. Applying what is learned in the investigation of one outbreak can help to prevent many future illnesses.
Read more of the post "Food Safety: What’s Hiding in Your Food?" here.