Some eye-popping food-safety stats from the Economist:
1. There are 26,000 food poisoning cases per 100,000 Americans, every year!
2. Compare that to only 3,400 cases in the UK, and just 1,200 in France (about one tenth, and one twentieth, compared to the US).
3. Every year 76 million Americans become ill with food poisoning. That’s 25% chance each one of us will get sick this year.
4. Of those contracting some ailment, 325,000 end up in a hospital, while most others get over it in a day or 2.
5. However, five thousand Americans die every year from food poisoning.
6. Insufficient food safety is a $35 Billion drag on the US economy.
Why is the US a tenfold more dangerous place to eat than Europe?
Some of the reasons offered in the article are “less eating out, less prepared meals, and less hamburgers” in the UK, but the real reason may lie elsewhere.
This is because the top products involved in food poisoning are actually leafy greens and several other unprocessed foods consumed at home.
There is hope, both on the regulatory and the entrepreneurial fronts. The FDA may soon be empowered by Congress to perform more routine checkups on producers and packers. And companies like Yottamark and FoodLogiq are creating barcodes that enable consumers to trace the route of their spinach all the way back to the farm where it was originally grown.
What to do at the supermarket:
Always thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before serving. If you prepare meats often, invest in a food thermometer to make sure your cut gets hot enough at the center before serving.
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