Classic English Literature
It is very important to take measures to prevent food borne diseases or illnesses. Food borne diseases are not just an impediment to economic growth but are also life threatening and depressing. It costs the federal government as well as other governments around the world a lot labor hours due to workers taking sick leaves and a lot of money in terms of the medical expenses to treat the illnesses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about “1 in every 6 people, about 48 million people, get infected in the United States (US) each year. Out of this, 128,000 get hospitalized with 3000 of these dying from the various food infections” (Watstein and Jovanovic 143). Health practitioners and researchers also project that America spends about 5 to 6 billion dollars both in lost labor hours and the direct medical expenses. This reveals the extent to which food borne illnesses stifle the economy.
Food poisoning indeed causes a serious strain in terms of health and finances on many societies. It is estimated that about 2.1 million people died worldwide from diarrheal diseases in the year 2000 (Watstein and Jovanovic 186). Most of these deaths were caused by parasite infections especially due to contamination of drinking water.
Developing countries are worse hit by food as well as water borne diseases. Clean and treated fresh water is unavailable to most individuals in developing countries. People in these countries are forced to consume water directly from natural occurring sources like rivers and wells as well as harvested rain water (M’ikanatha, Lynfield, Beneden and Valk 206). This exposes such people to probable infections arising from the pathogens in the water. Food storage and handling is also rather poor in the developing countries. The World health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 3.8 million people die to food and water borne related illnesses in the developing countries. Most of these deaths are women and children.
In the US another study reveals that more than 76 million cases of food infections are reported every year. This results to 325,000 hospitalizations of whom 5000 die every year. Pathogens alone account for 9.4 million food poisoning cases resulting 55,961 hospitalizations and 2,612 deaths every year (M’ikanatha, Lynfield, Beneden and Valk 182).
In 1991 a cholera epidemic in Peru resulted into a loss of US$ 500 million worth of fish and fish products exports.
About 5.4 million cases of food borne infections/illness occur every year in Australia resulting to about 18, 000 people being hospitalized with 120 people ending up dying of the food borne illnesses. Australia also loses about 2.1 million worth of work days as people take off sick leaves to seek for medical help. This causes a lot of strain to the economy and thus the need to prevent the food borne diseases from occurring. The medical expenses incurred from the food borne infections lead to great losses in terms of finances and affects the economy in general.
Various governments therefore need to create awareness among the public for people to know what food borne diseases are, how they are spread, their symptoms, their causes and mechanisms to prevent them.
Food borne diseases or food illnesses are illnesses that arise out of consuming contaminated foods, viruses, parasites and/or pathogenic bacteria that infect food. They can also be caused by naturally occurring toxins and/or chemicals in plants and in rare cases some animals (Knechtges, 132). This phenomenon is commonly referred to as food poisoning. There are about 250 food borne diseases known to man. The most common food borne diseases include mycotoxicosis, Salmonellosis, listeriosis, staphylococcal and E.coli among many others.
There are various causes of food borne illnesses. These include but are not limited to these, improper food storage, improper preparation and improper handling among others (Knechtges, 108). Many individuals are unaware of how to store various foods. People usually assume that by just their foods irrespective of which kinds of foods are safe by just refrigerating. Individuals are also ignorant of the standard temperature in which they should refrigerate their foods. Refrigerators’ temperature should be maintained at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The refrigerator should always be closed tightly to avoid altering the temperature within the refrigerator.
It is also common to find individuals refrigerating various foods for extended durations even those that have been clearly labeled that they should be consumed not later than a given specific date. Perishable foods like fruits and vegetables should be consumed as soon as possible. Refrigerating such foods for extended duration of time lowers their quality and can also lead to food poisoning. Individuals are encouraged to practice food rotation. This involves consuming foods that have been stored for the longest period first while replacing it with new food. This ensures that no food is stored for extended durations.
Individuals also refreeze thawed foods (Knechtges 85). This activity catalyzes the growth of virus and bacteria which increase the potential risk of food poisoning. Individuals are ignorant that freezing thawed foods does not eliminate microbes present in various foods but only inactivates the microbes. If this same food is left at room temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then the microbes reactivate causing food poisoning.
The governments should ensure on its part that the guidelines for commercial food storage are adhered to. Grains should always be threshed and dried in the field before being transported to their various storage silos. Vegetables and fresh fruits should be packed in plastic containers and refrigerated as soon as possible. They should not however exceed two weeks in the refrigerators.
Food borne infections can also be caused by coming into close contact with infected persons or equipment (Smith 27). CDC 6 year old girl in the US died from E.coli which she had contracted after kissing her infected grandfather who had been put in rehabilitation. This shows the extent to which food borne diseases can be dangerous and thus their prevention.
In 1964, a large scale outbreak of typhoid which was caused by improper handling of food equipment resulted to about 400 cases of food poisoning (Watstein and Jovanovic 76). Apparently meat that had been contaminated was sliced using a meat slicer that was never properly cleaned. The slicer was then used to cut other meat which resulted to the contamination and the resulting cases.
Food borne infections symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and stomach ache. Though it is possible to treat various food infections especially in the developed countries, measures should be taken to prevent these infections from occurring all together. Health practitioners claim though that about 60% of food infections causes are still unknown (M’ikanatha, Lynfield, Beneden and Valk 234).
Considering the magnitude of deaths occurring from food infections and the losses incurred, it should be the duty and responsibility of every individual citizen to adhere to high standards of hygiene, proper handling of foods and efficient and disciplined food storage mechanisms. Governments on the other hand should ensure that the public are not exposed to poor environments and ensure that strict rules are adhered to in handling food and water.
Knechtges, Paul. Food Safety: Theory and Practice. Massachusetts. Jones & Bartlett Publishers,
M’ikanatha, Nkuchia M., Ruth Lynfield, Chris A. Van Beneden and Henriette de Valk.
Infectious Disease Surveillance. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. Print.
Smith, James. Food borne Pathogens: Microbiology and Molecular Biology. Norfolk: Horizon
Scientific Press, 2005. Print.
Watstein, Sarah and John Jovanovic. Statistical Handbook on Infectious Diseases. Westport
Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.Print.