An greater number of brand name foods and restaurants have been featured in the news recently, and unfortunately for them, the headlines have not been good.
Bluebell, Odwalla, and most recently Chipotle, have all been associated with foodborne illnesses in just the last couple of decades. Over a twenty year period, multi-state foodborne illnesses have tripped and the resulting health impacts have become bigger and deadlier than every before.
These findings come from a recent CDC report, which also states that the less likely outbreaks result in a greater numbers of fatalities. Why are these tragic developments happening more frequently and just what can be done to stop this frightening trend?
Less Frequent But More Lethal
According to the CDC, multistate outbreaks of foodborne illnesses happen less frequently than more contained instances, which affect fewer people. However, when larger outbreaks do occur they typically involve more lethal types of bacteria, such as E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.
Reportedly, 91 percent of multistate outbreaks—which result in more than half of foodborne illness deaths in the United States—involve those potentially deadly contaminates. Since these specific dangers are well understood, why has it been increasingly difficult to mitigate them?
Greater Potential For Contamination
We may see more frequent and more deadly outbreaks as a result of the rising number of food imports. Unlike in domestically produced and distributed food, the bacterial detection process can be a lot more challenging to carry out in a thorough manner. As more hands come into contact with food that has a greater distance to travel and more destinations to reach, there is greater potential for contamination.
There are also a lot more variables when it comes to practicing and enforcing food safety protocol. This can compromise the safety of foods that are especially susceptible to E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, such as beef, chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables, but these bacteria are also affecting foods that were not considered so easily contaminated, such as factory processed and packaged foods like bottled beverages and ice-cream.
The Cost Of Safety Gaps
We may also be seeing more instances of foodborne illnesses in recent years because we’re getting better at accurately identifying them than in the past. That said, we should take greater steps to address the failings that allow food safety measures to fall through the cracks.
While it can be costly and time consuming to enforce food safety regulations across an expanding web of operations, the cost of not doing so has become increasingly apparent.
Has this issue affected your company or industry? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.