The Top 5 Most Fatal Causes of Foodborne Illness

A new report suggests that only about half of retail delis are cleaning their deli slicers according to government recommendations. The study sheds light on concerns about foodborne illnesses.

Take a second and think of your favorite place to grab a sandwich or bite to eat. Now, how confident are you that your favorite food establishment is cleaning their utensils and appliances as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety guidelines?

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weekly mortality and morbidity report revealed that only half of retail deli establishments said they adhere to the recommended cleaning frequency for their deli slicers.

The government recommends disassembling and cleaning at four-hour intervals as a means to prevent contamination with pathogens like Listeria Monocytogenes. Listeria is currently the third-leading cause of foodborne-illness-related deaths.

The study demonstrates the need for more widespread adoption of the FDA food code, increased public awareness, and improved food safety handling training.

Top 5 Most Deadly Foodborne Illnesses

1. Norovirus

• The CDC estimates that between 570 and 800 people die each year from Norovirus.

• Common sources include contaminated foods like salads, and shellfish.

• The virus can also be transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or coming in contact with the vomit or feces of an infected person.

2. Non-typhoidal salmonella

• Salmonella causes an estimated 450 deaths each year.

• Common sources include eggs, poultry, and unpasteurized dairy products. It can also be found on contaminated raw fruits and vegetables.

• Animals and pets like reptiles (turtles and lizards) and amphibians (frogs).

3. Toxoplasma gondii

• Toxoplasma-related foodborne illness leads to approximately 350 deaths each year.

• Contaminated meat is a common source if it is not well cooked.

• Anything that comes in contact with the contaminated raw meat—knives, forks, utensils, and appliances—can also pose a danger.

• Another common source is via cat feces and litter boxes.

4. Listeria

• Listeria causes an estimated 250 food-related-illness deaths annually.

• Common sources include: Deli meats, unpasteurized dairy products, refrigerated seafood, contaminated sprouts.

5. Campylobacter spp.

• The CDC estimates it causes between 75 and 100 deaths each year.

• Common sources are contaminated water, unpasteurized dairy, and raw meat.

Steps for Prevention

• Avoid unpasteurized dairy products

• Thoroughly cook food as recommended by food safety standards

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

• Maintain clean utensils and appliances

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