If you follow the news, you may have noticed one or two outbreaks of foodborne illnesses around the country. Most of us can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve gotten food poisoning, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. 2015 alone had dozens of outbreaks of varying degrees. Some infected merely a handful of victims locally, while others stretched across state lines, leaving hundreds praying to the porcelain gods and in some cases leading to hospitalization and even death. Below is an abridged list compiled by Food Safety News of some of the most notable outbreaks of last year, excluding those of norovirus and exclusively focusing on pathogenic outbreaks resulting from restaurant food and grocery consumption.
5. Chipotle: The most recent incident with Chipotle happened only a matter of months ago, sending its stock into a nosedive. That was just one of several outbreaks causing hundreds to fall sick with numerous illnesses all throughout the country. For the purposes of this article, the 2016 outbreaks will be excluded, and instead we’ll focus only on the 2015 outbreak in October, which infected a total of 52 individuals with E. coli.
4. Indonesian tuna: The west coast was reportedly hit the worst, but it lasted for months and spread far and wide. The source was tuna for sushi imported from Indonesia. Sufficient foreign food inspection in the past has been known to be a challenging task. The FDA has announced its efforts to tighten its inspections due to past incidents of imported foods. This particular incident left 65 sick with salmonella.
3. Pork from Kapowsin Meats: The greatest risk is when food is infected at its source and then distributed to multiple states. The further the food travels, the harder it becomes to trace its origins, effectively lengthening the time it takes to halt an illness from spreading. This particular case reached a total of five separate states, namely Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and even Alaska. No deaths were reported, although 192 people fell ill to salmonella as a result of having consumed this pork.
2. Mexican-grown cilantro: This was the third consecutive year that there was an outbreak from cilantro coming from across the border, underscoring another example of how much more difficult it is to monitor foods that come from countries with looser food safety laws than those enforced within the United States. This outbreak left 546 people infected with cyclospora between from May to June 2015.
1. Cucumbers: Another example of an illness reaching various states. This time, it reportedly hit a total 38 unique states, making it all the more difficult to control. 165 people were hospitalized in California, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas. Among those states were four deaths. And once again, the cucumbers were imported from Mexico. The total number of people who were reported sick due to this outbreak was a staggering 838 people.
The good thing for you is that Florida has top quality food handler education, allowing these incidents to be kept to a minimum. If you’d like to become a part of the solution, give Ken Kuscher a call at 561-703-7196 to get your own food handler certification.