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How to protect yourself against contaminated food 

The FDA recently announced that over 400 food products needed to be recalled in the US due to a possible Listeria contamination, with a range of products including sandwiches, cakes, salads, wraps, muffins, and yoghurts affected. 

In light of this, a lot of consumers are concerned about the risks of eating contaminated food. Here’s how you can protect yourself: 

What are the risks? 

The CDC estimates that 48 million people are affected by foodborne diseases in the US every year, with 128,000 of those being hospitalized and 3,000 cases being fatal. 

Some common types of foodborne illnesses include Salmonella, E-coli, norovirus, and Listeria. But some are more deadly than others. For example, norovirus accounted for approximately 46% of infections, but it has a low mortality rate of 1 in 100,000. 

On the other hand, Listeria is less common but has a much higher mortality rate, with the illness being fatal in around 20% of cases. The CDC estimates that 19% of all food poisoning deaths were caused by eating poultry that was contaminated by either Salmonella or Listeria. 

How to protect yourself 

Most people recover from food poising without complications. However, some groups are more at risk, like pregnant women, the elderly, and people with existing health conditions. 

Here are some tips to protect yourself: 

  • Regularly clean and sanitise your kitchen and refrigerator 
  • Prepare raw meat, cooked meat, and vegetables separately 
  • Keep your fridge at 5 degrees celsius or lower and your freezer at minus 18 degrees celsius or lower to stop bacteria from growing 
  • Avoid food made from raw milk as this is a high risk for listeria and other bacteria 
  • Pregnant women should avoid soft cheese unless it’s made with pasteurised milk
  • Wash leafy greens thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after handling 
  • Keep an eye on use-by dates and how long food has been stored after opening 

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