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Steven J. Klearman
Steven J. Klearman
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What You Need To Know About Foodborne Illnesses

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There are an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses reported every year according to the Federal government.

To put that another way, 1 in 6 Americans get sick each year. And, each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths yearly.

The FDA has a chart that includes all foodborne disease-causing organisms that are commonly the cause of illnesses in the U.S. The chart shows how numerous and varied the symptoms are from mild discomfort to life-threatening.

Most at risk are the young and the elderly as well as people that have weakened immune systems including pregnant women.

Three of the more common foodborne illnesses are:

E. coli (Escherichia coli) which includes diarrhea, cramping and vomiting. Onset is typically within 1 to 3 days with it lasting for 3 to 7 days. The source of illness is spurred by water or food contaminated with human feces.

Listeria (monocytogenes) which includes fever, muscle aches, nausea and/or diarrhea. Onset is anywhere from 9 to 48 hours while symptoms can last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. The source of illness is unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses and ready-to-eat deli meat.

Salmonella (salmonellosis) which includes abdominal cramps, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Onset is anywhere from 6 to 48 hours and can last up to 7 days. The source of illness is eggs, poultry, meat, cheese and contaminated raw vegetables and fruit.

This is not an exhaustive list, but rather the few that most people are familiar with. You can print a more comprehensive list from the FDA Web site or simply read it to become familiar with foodborne illness risks and precautions.