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Making Sense of Foods

Keeping Food Safe: Dangers of Unsafe Foods

Most of us have become ill by accidentally consuming contaminated food at one time or another. The result can be very mild-just transient nausea, diarrhea, or other unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. But the consequences are often much more serious.

Foodborne diseases cause an estimated 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Consider the economic toll:

  • Experts estimate that the yearly cost of all foodborne diseases in this country is $5 to $6 billion in direct medical expenses and lost productivity.
  • Salmonella infections alone account for $1 billion yearly in direct and indirect medical costs.1 Salmonella is one of the most common causes of outbreaks, cases, and deaths. Most outbreaks are attributed to eating eggs.2

There are two main sources of bacteria that cause foodborne illness:

  1. Animal products tainted with fecal contamination during slaughter or processing
  2. Foods that have been secondarily contaminated by animal products

One good solution to this problem: Eliminate animal products from your diet. This step removes the most common sources of these dangerous bacteria. But even if you're eating fruits and vegetables, you should keep some basic safety measures in mind.

 

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