Foodborne illnesses are a severe problem that affects millions of people all around the world. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 600 million people fall sick every year due to consuming contaminated food, and almost 420,000 people lose their lives due to foodborne illnesses. These illnesses are caused by harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites present in food, causing severe health problems for those who consume it. Here are some of the hidden dangers of foodborne illnesses and how to avoid them.
1. Raw and Undercooked Food
One of the most common ways to contract a foodborne illness is through raw or undercooked food. Raw meat, fish, and other animal products carry harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E.coli, which can lead to severe infections. It is important to cook food until it reaches a safe internal temperature to kill these bacteria; for example, cooking poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165°F and ground beef to 160°F.
Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria from raw animal products like meat and poultry spread onto other foods, utensils, or surfaces. For instance, using a cutting board for raw chicken and then using the same cutting board to prepare vegetables can spread bacteria to the vegetables. To avoid cross-contamination, it is important to keep raw animal products separate from other foods and use separate utensils and cutting boards for each type of food.
3. Improper Food Storage
Improper food storage can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria, which can cause foodborne illnesses. It is important to store food at the right temperature to prevent bacterial growth. For example, storing perishable foods in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or lower and keeping frozen food at 0°F or lower can help prevent the growth of bacteria.
4. Eating Contaminated Raw Produce
Fresh fruits and vegetables can carry harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli if they are contaminated with animal feces or have been handled by an infected person. It is important to wash all produce thoroughly before consuming and to avoid consuming sprouts and other raw produce that are often associated with outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.
5. Consuming Unpasteurized Dairy Products
Unpasteurized dairy products like raw milk and cheese can contain harmful bacteria like Listeria and E.coli, which can cause severe infections. It is recommended to consume pasteurized dairy products to eliminate the risk of contamination.
In conclusion, foodborne illnesses are a serious problem that affects millions of people worldwide. To avoid these hidden dangers, it is important to practice proper food handling and preparation techniques, cook food to the appropriate temperature, avoid cross-contamination, store food correctly, wash produce thoroughly, and consume pasteurized dairy products. By taking these precautions, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from foodborne illnesses.