More temperature monitoring needed to combat foodborne illness
Tuesday, Apr 23rd 2013

More food service providers need to leverage advanced temperature monitoring and environment control systems to counter the fact that the number of foodborne illnesses is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In particular, the CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) found that the number of reported Campylobactor infections rose 14 percent since the period from 2006 to 2008, United Press International reported. Additionally, the number of reported infections from Vibrio - a bacteria which is most commonly spread through raw shellfish consumption - increased 43 percent during the same period.

The latest findings from FoodNet also showed that from 2011 to last year, the number of reported E. coli infections went up as well. Also, approximately two-thirds of all those 65 and older who ended up in the hospital because of a foodborne illness were infected by E. coli.

However, the reporting did find positives, as the number of reported incidences for other common infections went down in 2012. In particular, infections from Listeria, Salmonella and Yersinia all decreased in 2012 from the previous year's levels.

"The U.S. food supply remains one of the safest in the world," said CDC director Tom Frieden, according to UPI. "However, some food-borne diseases continue to pose a challenge."

How environment control systems can prevent foodborne illnesses
Although the CDC reported some gains, foodborne illnesses killed 68 people and hospitalized more than 4,500 Americans in 2012. Plus, considering that the agency has previously noted that many of those who come down with a foodborne illness are not accounted for in official tallies, the 2012 figures may be even higher.

People have many ways to decrease the likelihood of contracting a foodborne illness, including by thoroughly cooking meat and not eating unpasteurized dairy or raw meat, UPI reported. Another way is by making sure perishable items are only stored under ideal conditions overseen by a temperature sensor and humidity monitoring equipment.

By leveraging environment control systems, restaurants and other food service establishments can make sure that their perishable supplies are kept under ideal conditions and thus less likely to spread foodborne illnesses. Typically, most bacterial strains thrive under moist, warm conditions. By making sure meat, dairy, fresh vegetables and other food items are continually kept in sufficiently cool and dry facilities, operations managers can decrease the likelihood of pathogens such as Campylobactor propagating on supplies.

To make sure refrigeration and freezer units are always working well, food service providers can set up their environment control systems to send out an alert via email or text message in the rare event temperature or humidity levels reach an unsafe range for any amount of time.