Foodborne illnesses affect 1 in 6 people annually, claiming nearly 3,000 lives. But where are they occurring? Which products had the most outbreaks? Which were the most dangerous? These are all questions recently answered by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in their white paper, Outbreak Alert! 2001-2010 A Review of Foodborne Illness in America, released last month.
The CSPI analyzed 7,194 unique foodborne outbreaks documented within a 10-year period (1991 to 2010), accounting for 205,867 cases of illness.1
According to the CSPI’s analysis, cases of outbreaks were greatest in restaurant settings, accounting for 1,786 outbreaks and 32,919 illnesses, while household settings resulted in the second highest number of illnesses (12,666) in 922 outbreak incidents. Prisons contained 77 unique outbreaks with 10,660 sicknesses, the third largest, with 1,644 of those occurring in a single incident in 2006, in which contaminated milk was served resulting in the largest single-source outbreak of the decade. 1
Food Product Type
According to the white paper, four food product categories resulted in the most outbreaks, making up 51% of all cases. These products were as follows:
#1 Produce: 696 outbreaks (17%), 25,222 illnesses (24%)
#2 Seafood: 657 outbreaks, 5,603 illnesses
-1. Poultry: 458 outbreaks, 11,338 illnesses
-2. Beef: 363 outbreaks, 7,528 illnesses
-3. Pork: 176 outbreaks, 3,794 illnesses
#4 Dairy: 193 outbreaks, 5,524 illnesses
The product with the greatest number of outbreaks does not mean that it is the highest at risk food. In fact, in this case, it’s the exact opposite. Produce was found to be one of the safest foods to consume, along with fruit and dairy. CSPI ranks seafood as the most hazardous product when analyzing risk of illness-per-pound followed by poultry, eggs, beef, and pork. 1
To read the CSPI’s white paper visit http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/outbreak_alert_2013_final.pdf.
How to Prevent
Although foodbourne illnesses will always be an ongoing problem, there are several strategies that can help prevent products from being at risk.
-Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
On January 4th, 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama, making it the first significant food safety reform in over 70 years.
According to the new Act, the Food and Drug Administration will be granted the authority to “regulate about 80 percent of the food supply with the exceptions of meat and poultry,” with the capability of issuing mandatory recalls, analyzing irrigation water, requiring “credited third party certification for high-risk foods,” and deny entry of products to “foreign companies who do not allow the FDA access to their facilities.” 2,3
According to Food Safety Magazine, “Food companies should begin getting ready now before the FSMA is fully implemented so they can be adequately prepared for new inspection standards since the FDA will be much stricter.” 3
It is very important to stress safety throughout the entire supply chain, including transportation. Entrusting your freight in the hands of unsafe drivers, poor equipment, and shady carriers can lead to an unruly number of risks. Here are a few ways Road Scholar Transport offers to keep your food products safe:
Aluminum Floor Trailers: Wooden trailer floors serve as a means of contamination, as spills within the trailer from previous freight, unsanitary objects and materials being carried on from shoes and forklifts, among many other means penetrate the flooring, building up chemicals and bacteria which can enter future freight. Road Scholar’s aluminum floor trailers create a more sanitary environment for your products. We conduct regular sweeps on all trailers to ensure that your freight is being transported in a clean, and therefore safe, environment as well as have record of what was inside the trailer before your freight, before that, within the last month, and so on, as well as what has been transported since the last time the trailer was cleaned.
Proper Temperature Conditions: The upcoming summer months pose a large risk for shippers whose food products must maintain specific temperature ranges or face spoilage and contamination risks. Therefore, it is important that you ensure that carriers are properly maintaining these conditions throughout the entire process.
With Road Scholar’s ReeferTrak system, we can provide our customers proof of the exact temperature inside the reefer any time, even months after delivery. Our ReeferTrak immediately alerts our team of even the slightest change in the temperature allowing our team to change the temperature of the trailer while in transit from our main terminal.
Security: It goes without saying that stolen products, even if recovered, run a high risk of contamination concerns. We cut back on the handling of your products, which could lead to contamination, by offering 24-hour expedited service, dock-to-dock with NO transfers. We can provide the exact route that the truck took with a time log noting every door opening/closing, temperature conditions within the trailer at any given time, and its exact location (right down to the breadcrumbs), along with protecting your freight with security features including Navalock.
To learn how you can check a carrier’s CSA scores, contact at www.roadscholar.com.
What do you find to be the number one factor of foodborne outbreaks during the transportation process? Is it poor equipment? Theft? Improper handling? Etc.