The Evolution of Food Safety

Where do you fit in?

In the year 1924, oysters that were grown in a heavily polluted river in Long Island, New York were responsible for the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness. 150 people died, while 1,500 were sickened from typhoid fever caused from the pathogen Salmonella Typhi. This was the first domino in a series of events that would eventually lead to the regulation of the food industry we see today.

Many food experts claim that food regulation mainly comes from reaction to a crisis. They say that “We tend to wait until there are sufficient illnesses in our country to justify a control and eventual prevention strategy”.  Therefore, over the last 100 years, food safety has experienced ever changing tactics in order to prevent sickness.

Over those 100 years, one thing has not changed, and that is the top three foods that cause illness. Those foods are: fresh produce, meat and poultry, and dairy products.

What causes these illnesses?

While the types of food that has been affected remains the same, the pathogens that are affecting them have not. In the past, microbes such as Salmonella Typhi, Trichenella, and Myobacterium were the main culprits. However, as we have nearly eradicated those, new ones have developed and taken their place. Now, people are more familiar with the names Listeria and E. coli. Both of these facts are demonstrated when you investigate the deadliest and most harmful outbreaks of 2014. For instance, cilantro grown in Mexico was infected with Cyclospora and sickened 304 people. Also, beansprouts infected with Listeria monocytogenes 2 died and 5 were sickened.

Are these the effects of a reactionary food sanitization system? It’s hard to say because we don’t know how the companies responsible for these outbreaks handled their food safety. One thing we do know for sure is that mistakes were made, whether through human error or poor sanitizing chemicals.

What can you do?

In order to prevent these types of outbreaks, there are a couple ways to ensure the safety of your food. The first is to take human error out of the equation. While that may seem impossible, you can at least ensure your system is the easiest it can be. For instance, measuring and mixing chemicals can introduce two additional levels of potential failure. Second, make sure the sanitizer/pesticide you are using is effective for the types of pathogens you want to kill. In order to eliminate certain bugs, the concentration required to do so with certain sanitizers may be above the allowable limit. Selective Micro Technologies offers a solution that achieves both. Our pure chlorine dioxide is easier to use. Simply add water and allow generation. It is also very effective, even at low concentrations. For more information to eliminate dangerous pathogens, please contact Selective Micro Technologies today at 855.256.8299.

For more information of the pathogens eliminated please visit our Food Safety page!

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