Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting to Know and Envionmental Specialist...

Last week I attended a regional food safety conference here in Colorado. Many speakers gave updates on the latest foodborne illness news. Since the main purpose of inspecting food service operations is to reduce and control foodborne illnesses, keeping up on this news keeps us sharp.

I often get the question: Why are we hearing so much about people getting sick from food these days? Isn’t food supposed to be good for us? Seems it wasn’t like this 20-30 years ago. Truth is things have been changing.

Back in the day, food was produced close to where people lived. Many people shopped daily, and prepared and ate their food at home. Eating in restaurants was saved for special occasions.

There have also been major changes in how food is processed, where it comes from, better methods of finding bacteria and viruses in food, and improved regulations of the food industry.The majority of our food supply in the United States comes from all over the world, not just the local farmer down the road. Next time you shop, look at a label on a package of ground beef. It may come from not one but 3 different countries.

Better tests have been developed and faster detection methods have been developed
that help public health organizations, find new food pathogens.

Restaurant and other food industry regulations have been improved over the years as science has been better able to prove what causes foodborne illness and how to control and prevent it.

Every year, there are 76 million cases of foodborne illness reported in the United States with 5,000 deaths. This costs our country $7-8 billion dollars a year due to ill people, losses to food producers, and affects on the national economy. Much of this could be prevented with proper food handling and preparation techniques.

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