Dr. Manny Asks: What is the Government Doing to Prevent Food Borne Illnesses?

Dr. Manny
Can anyone tell me with a degree of certainty how many Americans get sick each year from food poisoning? According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50 million Americans get sick annually from foodborne illnesses.But actually, I think it’s probably a much higher number than that.

The CDC calculates this number based on data from only 10 states, or about 15 percent of the American population. I know that for a statistician this may make sense, but for myself, as an average American that has to worry about the food he is feeding his children, I don’t trust these numbers.

It seems that every year, once spring or summer hits, we get sporadic, often widespread outbreaks of food-related illnesses, whether it is E. coli or salmonella.

Throughout the years, physicians have been saying the same things to all their patients over and over again: Cook food at proper temperatures, maintain proper hygiene in the kitchen and other food preparation areas, wash hands with soap and water, and visit the doctor as soon as you have any signs or symptoms of food poisoning.

But what about federal and state government officials? Have they done anything to curb these outbreaks over the past decade? Or is the system just so overwhelmed with bureaucracy and lack of supervision that they just play the odds and focus on the number of cases – but not a real solution?

It seems to me that the state and federal governments always wait for a problem to occur before they develop adequate solutions. I find this ironic considering the current administration’s focus on prevention.

We hear all the time now from the government how important it is to prevent diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, in order to help us live longer, healthier lives so the government has to spend less money on health care.

But yet, in the area of food poisoning prevention, the government always seems to be playing catch up.

I know that the U.S. has imports of food and other products coming in from all over the world, and there are countless sources from where contamination could occur, but I truly believe better monitoring must be enforced in order to achieve higher levels of public safety and health.