Allergic Reactions to Certain Foods Can Kill

Allergic Reactions to Certain Foods Can Kill

In my practice of Emergency Medicine, I saw hundreds of patients with food allergies. I know first-hand that allergic reactions to certain foods can kill.

comprehensive food allergy list
Proud Manager of a comprehensive allergy list.

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We Need Consistency in Restaurant Grading

After obtaining several million health department inspections, reviewing tens of thousands of health department reports, sifting through hundreds of health department websites and analyzing dozens of scoring schema I offer some conclusions.

We need consistency in restaurant grading.

 Consistency in restaurant grading score card

A+ Restaurant Food Safety RatingThe FDA has developed, over decades, a simple inspection report card. Using this standardized report card is the first key to consistency. In my blog titled “Problems With Restaurant Food Safety Grading”, I review variances in food safety definitions.

There can be very few reasons not to use a universal score card and none of them hold any merit in the goal of improving the public health.

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Food Safety Education Can Save Your Job

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela

Unfortunately, there are people who suffer and die from food borne illness.

~60% of food borne illness is from restaurants.

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Glove Use Will Reduce Coronavirus

How do you feel when you notice the cook or server is touching ready to eat food without gloves? Glove Use Will Reduce Coronavirus!

A turn off, isn’t it? It also increases the risk of transmitting disease. And in the time of coronavirus it is no joke.

Imagine a dentist putting his/her hands in your mouth without using gloves. Would you ask him/her to put on gloves? When food service workers touch ready to eat foods without using gloves, they are literally putting their fingers into the customer’s mouth. Just like dentists, food service workers are entrusted with the public health. Glove use when serving ready to eat foods is critically important to reducing food borne illness.

restaurant plating

“The spread of germs from the hands of food workers to food is an important cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants and accounts for 89% of outbreaks.”

 Are food preparers or food servers required to wear gloves?

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The Movie “Contagion” Can Teach Prevention of Food Borne Illness

Republished from a Blog written September 6, 2018.

You should see the movie!

It is a chilling reminder of how rapidly infectious diseases can spread and the devastation that can occur. Now we have Coronovirus COVID-19.

The story is about a virus that spreads across the world killing billions. Food borne epidemics are occurring all the time. Over the last decade, there have been nearly 1000 food borne illness outbreaks in the USA every year. Two thirds of the time we don’t even know what caused the epidemic.

Graph Outbreaks

Usually there is a single source. But it is poor hygiene that spreads the infectious agent.  Without spilling the bottom line, “Contagion” highlights these critical facts.

Two major issues contribute to any kind of disease epidemic:

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Contaminated Gloves Can Cause Food Borne Illness

In the last three blogs, I discussed what the movie “Contagion” can teach us about the anatomy of food borne illness epidemics, how proper gloves use is important in the prevention of food borne illness and not all gloves are equal. Now, let’s prevent cross contamination.

In healthcare, we put gloves on a certain way, protect the glove from touching anything that could be contaminated, watch for leaks and take the glove off so as not to contaminate ourselves. All techniques are applicable to food safety.

Handle the glove and put it on and use them so as not to contaminate the gloves.

P1030092

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Not All Gloves are Equal and it Matters in Food Safety

In last blog I discussed the importance of using gloves when handling ready to eat food.

During my medical practice of nearly 40 years, I became very familiar with the use of gloves. Not all gloves are equal. Reflecting on that experience, it is clear to me that the choice of glove matters in food safety.

For most of my medical career, I used the industry standard powdered latex glove. But over the last decade of my practice, I developed a latex allergy, as have a significant number of other health care workers and the general public.


“According to the American Latex Allergy Association
8-17% of healthcare workers and … 1% of the general public in the US. … equals about 3 million people” (have a latex allergy).

 Most health care facilities have quit using latex gloves.

Powdered latex gloves should never be used in food preparation.

I have seen disposable plastic polyethylene gloves used in food service. imagesWhile they may be cheap, easy to put on and are a ‘one size fits’ all, there really is a very limited use for this type of glove. Primarily because of its easy fit, sweat and bacteria are not contained. Perhaps its most practical use is for a counter server who needs a single use protective barrier, picking up an item and immediately putting it on a plate or in a bag.

Plastic polyethylene gloves should optimally be used by food servers for single use.

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How Safe is Bed & Breakfast, Motel or Hotel Breakfast Food?

 

On a recent cross-country auto trip, we stayed in several nationally known motel chains. Alternately we often will stay in a Bed & Breakfast and/or independent motel or hotel that is highly rated by fellow consumers on travel websites.

I frequently wonder how many of the server staff have had food safety training. I assume that most national motel chains have training courses as part of their orientation. But what about the bed and breakfast or the independent motels? I would guess the standards may not be at the same level.

Research has shown that food safety standards in a typical home fail to meet recognized food safety standards. If the servers in the aforementioned have not had any food safety training, guests are at increased risk of food borne illness.

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How Safe is Community Service Prepared Food?

You may have read the headlines.

(CBS News) A food poisoning outbreak from turkey served at the Denver Rescue Mission has sent more than 50 people to the hospital for treatment.

(ABC News) “Authorities believe food poisoning caused more than 100 people to become sick following a potluck dinner at a Mormon church in Nevada over the weekend.”

“About 50 people were taken to Salt Lake City hospitals Sunday night after reports of food poisoning at a homeless shelter.”

Well intentioned, kind and community spirited people offer their generous time, talents and monies to help others, but sometimes the lack of food safety knowledge, experience and/or attention to food safety practices can cause misery.

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How Safe is the Food Served in our Schools?

We all want our children and grandchildren to be safe when they attend school.

But news headlines cause concern: “Workers blamed for food poisoning at Waipahu Elementary School”, “Questions Remain over Hollister High School Illness Outbreak”, “Food Poisoning Outbreak at Stanford — Norovirus Suspected”, ”Investigation Continues into what Sidelined 58 Teachers in Catered Luncheon.

For school administrators, teachers, parents and grandparents the headlines raise doubt.

USDA
Source: USDA

What is the frequency of these outbreaks?

In a 2016 CDC report there were nine outbreaks in 2014.

In the most recent CDC report August 2017 there were 16 food borne illness school outbreaks with 622 illnesses. While the reports are based on data that is two years old this is an increase from the previous year’s report.

What are deeper root causes?

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