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What is Foodbourne Illness?

Bacteria - Good and Bad

Despite America's food supply being among the safest in the world, the unappetizing fact is that sometimes the food we eat can make us sick. Why? Because bacteria may be present on foods when purchased or get into food during preparation, cooking, serving or storage.

Thousands of types of bacteria are naturally present in our environment, some good for you and some bad. For example, good bacteria are used beneficially in making cheese and yogurt. Bad bacteria that cause disease are called pathogens. When these pathogens enter the food supply, they can cause foodborne illness. Most of these foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following the Core 4 Steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill.

Illness

"It must have been something I ate," is often the explanation for what many people call the "stomach flu". Scientists however, have a different name for this problem. They call it foodborne illness and estimate that each year there are 76 million cases in the United States.

Two to three percent of all foodborne illnesses can lead to secondary long-term illnesses. For example, certain strains of E.coli can cause kidney failure in young children and infants; Salmonella can lead to reactive arthritis and serious infections; Listeria can cause meningitis and stillbirths; and Campylobacter may be the most common precipitating factor for Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Who is Most at Risk?

Age and physical condition place some persons at higher risk than others, no matter what type of bad bacteria they’ve been exposed to. Very young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk from any pathogen.

How to Keep From Getting Sick

Most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented through some simple food handling and storage steps. All it takes is a little know-how and such everyday weapons as soap and water, a refrigerator and a food thermometer to check the temperature.

The Core 4 Safety Steps

THE CORE FOUR

There are four easy steps to protect you from foodborne illness: CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK, and CHILL.

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What is Foodbourne Illness?
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