With the recent rise in food recalls due to contamination, many Americans are wondering why this is happening and what they can do to protect themselves from food-borne illnesses and infections. Dr. Mark Tamplin, former food safety adviser to both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and author of Phage, explains two primary causes and what consumers can do to stop the contamination from spreading.
A Listeria outbreak is one of the biggest challenges to the food industry, Tamplin says, and, it is often to blame in cases of food contamination, especially in ready-to-eat produce. Because of the increasing size of processing plants, once contamination spreads, it is hard to stop, and if something goes wrong, a lot of people are affected. Listeria thrives in the cold temperatures that stop other bacteria from growing and lives in hard-to-clean places, making it a challenge to contain.
Furthermore, Norovirus is the number one cause of food-borne illnesses in the U.S., responsible for 60% of those illnesses. This virus comes only from humans, so it raises concerns about how processing companies and consumers themselves handle their food. Tamplin advises consumers to always rinse their produce, even if it has been pre-washed, to never keep food in the danger zone between 40-140 degrees for longer than 4 hours, and to clean and sanitize their kitchens properly. With the right precautions and regulations, the contamination in our homes and the food industry can be contained.
Find out more about food contamination through the links below.
- Dr. Mark Tamplin, former food safety adviser to the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and author of Phage