(CNN) – One kid was drinking cider on a Connecticut farm, another was drinking a glass of juice while driving in Oregon; Later, both were taken to the emergency room as they struggled for their lives. A middle-aged woman fell ill more than a decade ago after eating a salad at a banquet in a California hotel; their debilitating symptoms continue to this day.
A 17-year-old paid the ultimate price when he ate two hamburgers "with everything to go" and died days later.
These are the stories behind the faces on the "Honor Wall" of Stop Foodborne Illness, the national nonprofit organization that represents and supports those who have suffered a drastic consequence of the most common action: eating.
It is the "wake-up calls along the way" that demonstrate to the industry "the importance of having a strong food safety culture," said Mike Taylor, co-chair of the nonprofit board and former deputy food and veterinary officer at the FDA.
Food-borne illness strikes one in every six Americans every year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 48 million people become ill due to one or the other of 31
According to World Health Organization estimates, nearly 1 in 10 people die of contaminated food each year and 420,000 die from it. 19659002] Food poisoning in the United States is controlled by the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which oversees the supply of meat, poultry, and processed eggs, as well as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
With frequent news of outbreaks being investigated by the CDC, many people may be wondering if food poisoning is on the rise – and whether security measures across the country adequately protect our food supply.
Foodborne disease is on the rise
Matthew Wise, deputy chief of the Department of Outbreak Response at the CDC, said the agency usually gets "about 200 disease clusters" each year. Wise described these clusters as "potential outbreaks".
"Outbreaks are the, very, very end of a long process," he said. An outbreak investigation involves collecting evidence, confirming a disease-causing pathogen, and tracking contacts; Most of this work is done by state health departments, although they are coordinated by the CDC.
Only about 15 of the 200 disease clusters studied each year are found to be actual outbreaks. Since Thursday, the CDC has reported 13 multi-state outbreaks this year.
Preliminary data from the latest CDC FoodNet report, which documents trends in food-borne outbreaks, suggest that some forms are on the rise: the total number of diagnosed infections with Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia has increased by 96% compared to 2014-2016 average.
Catherine Donnelly, a professor of food science at the University of Vermont, said this increase may be due in part to improved tools for both detection of food contamination and for monitoring outbreaks, reporting and investigation.
"Monitoring has become Dramatically improved, and state public health labs are linked to databases at CDC, allowing rapid identification of disease patterns and links to food. As a result, we see more reports of food poisoning, "wrote Donnelly in an email.
Her opinion is widespread, Taylor agrees, but the question of whether foodborne illness is increasing is" complicated. "
" In some areas Like E. coli O157: H7, concerted governmental and industrial strategies have dramatically reduced the number of associated diseases of these pathogens, "said Mike Taylor O157: H7, a particularly hard strain of E. coli, causes bloody diarrhea and sometimes Renal failure or even death.
Yet, reductions in Salmonella, Listeria, and other key pathogens have not occurred, he said.
Outbreaks reported fewer cases today than in the past, Taylor said. "The possibility of outbreaks due to sequencing of the whole." Recognizing genomes more quickly also means that the CDC can break through and contain an outbreak faster.
Donnelly notes that the proportion of Americans eligible for food poisoning is also increasing – "Many people do not know or understand that they could be at risk," she said.
"Pregnant women, elderly and immunocompromised people suffering from cancer, diabetes, liver and kidney disease are just a few examples of conditions that increase the risk of food poisoning," Donnelly said. "Young children are also prone to developing serious diseases through food poisoning."
Outbreaks are also influenced by seasonal and environmental factors, she said.
"We see more outbreaks of food poisoning in the warmer summer months, where food abuse opportunities arise [leaving foods unrefrigerated for periods of time, for instance]," she said. Storm floods have been associated with outbreaks of fresh produce, while vibrio-related illnesses associated with eating oysters may occur as a result of rising sea temperatures.
In the end, Taylor said, "We have too many food-borne illnesses, much has been done to reduce the risk, and there is much more that can be done."
Safety, however, begins with an understanding of our nutritional system ,
The USA The nutrition system is global in a word. "The reality is that there is a lot of food inside and outside the US," Wise said.
The volume of imports from around the world contributes to the risk of foodborne illness because it's difficult to monitor all these different things activity, Taylor said.
"About 95% of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, and 50% of the fresh fruit and about 25% of the vegetables are imported," he said.
"People tend to produce more food and eat it in different forms, and those are good things because we want people to eat more fresh produce, but when that happens, you're likely to increase the risk," said Taylor , This risk stems from the fact that fresh products are sold and prepared "without killing," such as cooking or canning, which can destroy disease-causing germs.
Wise also noticed a new wave of food-borne illnesses due to sprouts products, such as chia seeds, as well as "commercially manufactured raw products that are popular". Still, he said, the main issue behind every outbreak was how the food got contaminated? – is not a question that the CDC can answer; it is the job of regulators and industry.
"Food travel longer distances to get from farms to consumers, and pathogens can be introduced along the way," said Donnelly. "There is a wider geographical distribution of centrally produced foods, so if something goes wrong during production, the effects are widespread.
" Many outbreaks related to poultry, eggs and meat can be traced back to farms where intensive food production is involved [the] Spread of highly virulent pathogens, "she said, while some reflect" bad practices in dealing with food. "
But not just one or several areas of the food system, but the entire evolving system "There are many different changes in the food system that affect the risk over time, and so the problem of food safety evolves over time."
A culture of safety
Among the main alarm clocks English: www. English:. The entire food center The industry called for the outbreak of E. coli from contaminated beef patties in 1993 in Jack in the Box. Four children died, 178 others suffered permanent injuries, including kidney and brain damage eating industry, "this event was what inspired the formation of Stop Foodborne Illness," said Taylor.
"Since Jack in the box, there has been a tremendous development Understanding the practices, the interventions that can work to reduce risks, Taylor said. For example, the industry has focused on practices that can reduce pathogens on processing equipment and use microbial testing in food production systems to verify hygiene.
Many food companies have adopted "a best practices continuous improvement philosophy". It all comes down to doing everything you can through the technology you use, the practices you use, the training you use, the way you motivate employees, and do everything you do Every day, the right thing happens? "
It is also a culture of self-improvement that allows some companies to accept the message of Stop Foodborne Illness, which focuses on the vital importance of food safety.
"People" In fact, people are dying. Their lives are constantly changing with serious illnesses, "Taylor said, company executives use stories from the honor wall to motivate their employees and explain why it's so important for everyone to do the right thing every day to reduce the risk of illness
"There is no magic wand day by day," Taylor said.
Industry may play the leading role, but the government must also meet a high standard.
The policy of security
19659009] The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in 1965. The act "is still codified, but in principle this principle that anyone who is responsible for producing food should do what the best science says is appropriate to hazards and reduce the risk of the disease, "said Taylor," so we are moving in the right direction. "
The new demands are being directed States would be the first inspectors, overseers and advocates of food safety compliance for agricultural products, Taylor said. "They need resources to do that, and resources have started to be available, but this funding is incomplete."
Also under the plot – and for the first time – the FDA will directly oversee the importers and assess whether they have in place the newly requested foreign supplier certification program, Taylor said. The program requires importers to know their foreign supply sources (and their practices) and verify that suppliers meet US requirements.
The biggest challenge for the FDA is that there are approximately as many overseas-registered facilities for manufacturing and selling food here as there are US-based facilities, Taylor said.
"Congress has come down about half to what it said was needed to successfully implement the act," Taylor said. Although it is still in phase, the funding is incomplete.
"FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb supports FSMA," said Taylor. "He's doing all the things we've done during the previous administration and pushing them forward, it's not for lack of commitment and effort, and the FDA people want to move forward."
"Historically, food safety and nutrition have Never been sufficiently funded by the FDA, "said Taylor, based on his experience in the agency from the 1970s to 2016.
Donnelly said," Beyond the budget, there is a lack of trained food inspectors at the FDA. Food companies complain that the FDA's inspection approach is punitive, as opposed to a more pedagogical approach in [USDA] where inspectors work with food processors on-site to ensure safe food production. "
Meanwhile, lawyers have replaced government scientists in many cases FDA, and therefore there is a lack of understanding of how certain foods are produced, she said.
" Without knowledge of production practices, it is difficult to provide guidance to processors, Manage risks effectively. That's why education is the key, "said Donnelly.
" As consumers demand more products that are fresh and locally produced, providing more hands-on training for manufacturers can help to more effectively manage safer, safer foods Producers also play a role in food safety that goes far beyond their "demands" and purchases.
"This story is not complete unless we remind consumers that they are also part of The Five Pillars
The Five Pillars of Food Poisoning Prevention are Farms, Processing, Transportation and Storage, Retail and Consumers, Taylor said, "It's everyone's problem and everyone's solution at the end of the food chain." Day. "
Donnelly noted that" the percentage of food The number of restaurant-related outbreaks increased to 60% between 1998 and 2015, while outbreaks reported in the home report dropped significantly to 8%. "
" Consumers with weakened immune systems need to rethink their health eating c hices, "she said , "As consumers get older, their immune system becomes less functional and increases their risk, and in a Listeria outbreak with melon, the average age of those who developed the disease was 84."  Wise said that every time an outbreak occurs, the CDC keeps asking itself, "Have we reached a point where we can communicate?"
"When I go home and tell my mother or wife something about not eating, it should be in public domain at this point," he said. "We tend to communicate when we identify a product with sufficient specificity that would allow someone to do something."
In each outbreak message, the CDC informs the public about the disease's course, the severity of disease information, symptoms, and product recall, if any. It helps when people who believe that their own illness may be part of an outbreak talk to their doctors.
"People should know that there are a lot of hi-tech and high-tech scientists who are finding out how to better prevent food poisoning," said Taylor. "People should know that the system – government and industry – is not just sitting back."