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September is Food Safety Education Month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to work towards keeping the world’s food supply safe for consumption and in doing so have dedicated the month of September as National Food Safety Education Month. This is used to promote food safety and help inform consumers about ways to prevent food poisoning. It is approximated that every year, about 1 in 6 Americans get sick from food poisoning, which translates to around 48 million people. Out of this number, 128,000 are hospitalized, while an estimated 3,000 die from consuming contaminated food. While anyone can become sick from a foodborne illness, there are some groups of people that are at a higher risk to develop an illness, including children younger than five years old, adults aged 65 or older, people with health complications, and pregnant women. People who are at a higher risk of becoming ill from food poisoning should stay away from foods, such as undercooked or raw animal products, raw or lightly cooked sprouts, unpasteurized milk and juices, and soft cheese unless it is labeled as being made with pasteurized milk.

The globalization of society has led to a changing landscape in the way food is processed and transported, as well as the number of foods and products that countries have imported. Today, the United States imports approximately 15% of its food supply, which comes from over 200 countries. Americans place a priority on foods being convenient, having a variety of options and diversity, and imported foods continue to help meet these demands. As food production becomes more globalized, the path that food travels from farm to table becomes more complex. This creates the risk that a single point of contamination to the food can, as a result, make many people sick in a variety of different parts of the country or world. Global food safety is important for the health of all people and it is imperative to take steps to ensure that you and your family do not consume any contaminated food. To help protect yourself and your family as you prepare and handle food, follow these tips:

  • Thoroughly clean your hands, utensils, and surfaces when preparing to cook.
  • Separate your cooked food from the uncooked and fresh produce, including raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
  • Cook your food properly and consider using a thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to an internal temperature that eliminates germs.
  • Chill or refrigerate your perishable foods or leftovers within two hours of being cooked.

The safety of food is a shared global responsibility, and the safety of the U.S. food supply depends on the effectiveness of food safety systems in other countries to help ensure that imported products are safer for consumption. The Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture continue to work with foreign counties on strengthening the international food safety system by regulating imported foods and making sure they meet the proper safety standards. In addition, the CDC makes it a priority to work with health authorities to share information on foodborne outbreaks within the United States. Most recently, Tyson Foods, Inc. recalled Weaver Brand ready-to-eat chicken patty products due to possible foreign matter contamination. This was classified as a Class I recall, which is a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death, being the most dangerous classification.

It is important to raise awareness about food safety and to know the steps that you can take in order to prevent consuming contaminated products. However, even when you are being cautious, it is still possible to become ill due to consuming contaminated food that was purchased. If you or a loved one have fallen ill due to consuming a recalled product, contact one of our experienced attorneys today at (815) 929-9292 for a free consultation.