According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 76 million Americans get food poisoning every year. Even though we have one of the safest food supplies in the world, food poisoning is caused primarily by improper and unhygienic handling of food – which can breed and spread harmful bacteria. Many thousands of cases of supposed flu are actually food poisoning cases demonstrating similar symptoms.
Only microscopic amounts of bacteria are required to cause sickness. Virtually everyone is susceptible to bacterial food poisoning, the symptoms of which can range from modest digestive discomfort to death. Bacteria that cause food poisoning include salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli and several other pathogens.
Disease-causing bacteria are most commonly found in meats, seafoods and dairy products, though we have also seen outbreaks of contamination in lettuce, melons, and other fruits and vegetables, as well as a limited number of packaged and prepared foods. Experts believe that disease-causing bacteria can never be fully eradicated from the food chain, and there is widespread agreement that bacterial food contamination is on the rise – representing a major threat to public health.