At the same time that Americans are being urged to eat healthier and to consume more fruits and vegetables, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just came out with a study covering a decade of food poisoning cases and looked at the role that certain foods played in spreading illness.
The CDC study found that, in 20% of cases where a person contracted a foodborne illness, leafy green vegetables were the source of the illness.
Every year, 1 out of every 6 Americans contracts a foodborne illness. Of those who become ill, 128,000 require a stay in the hospital and another 3,000 die from the illness or related conditions.
Many of the people who got sick from eating leafy green vegetables contracted the norovirus.
Norovirus is a virus that causes what most people think of as the “stomach flu”. Symptoms usually include vomiting and diarrhea.
Norovirus is a pretty faced moving illness and symptoms usually occur in only 10 hours after first being exposed. Generally, the illness is short-lived, lasting between 1 and 3 days.
Produce can get contaminated with norovirus in the fields if they come into contact with dirty water or water that has had contact with animal waste.
Another way that produce can get contaminated with norovirus is by food handlers and cleanliness in the kitchen.
Norovirus can be prevented by frequent hand washing, disinfecting contaminated surfaces with chlorine-based cleaners, washing linens and avoiding contamination by dirty water or feces.
How Restaurants and Cruise Ships can Avoid Norovirus Contamination
Many consumers assume that produce contamination occurs at the farm or in the packing plant. In fact, food handlers at restaurants can play a large role in food contamination.
It is important that restaurants and food workers be properly trained in handling of leafy green vegetables. Kitchen managers should receive instruction on how to handle leafy greens and then insure that proper policies are in effect and are being followed.
Restaurants should have polices in effect so that employees who are ill report the illness to their manager along with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, fever, cough, yellow eyes or skin, etc. Restaurants should have procedures in place which tells ill employees to stay at home.
Employees should also be trained to have use soap and water and to wash often and have procedures for food handling and sanitation of food handling areas.
Food Safety at Home
There are things that consumers can do to avoid foodborne illness. Here are some safety guidelines:
- Avoid buying bruised or damaged produce
- Avoid buying pre-cut produce that has not been refrigerated properly.
- Separate fresh fruit and produce and meats, poultry and seafood products when carrying from the market and when storing.
- Set your refrigerator thermometer at 40 degree Fahrenheit or below.
- Wash cooking utensils such as knives and cutting boards often and do not use the same cutting board and knives for poultry and beef as you use with produce.
Washington Injury Lawyer Represents Foodborne Illness Victims
The Farber Law Group represents people who have become seriously ill due to foodborne illness caused by negligence. In one case, Mr. Farber won a sizable settlement for a Washington State boy who suffered HUS Kidney failure after contract e-coli from a local fast food restaurants.
Contact Herb Farber if you have questions about your case. He will provide a free and confidential case evaluation.