Is eating out safer than eating at home?
Actually it can be thanks to the diligence of operators, regulators and food service workers. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions not all food service is safe. The Five Faces of Foodborne Illness is based on USA statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who also advise us that Handwashing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.
- 54 billion Safe Meals served
- 54,000,000,000, at about a million locations. Eating out is one of our favorite activities: over 40% of adults eat in a restaurant every day. While most meals are wholesome, some cause illnesses. Just over 50% of the American food dollar is spent on food prepared or served away from home.
- 48,000,000 foodborne illnesses
- 1 of every 6 people will "catch" a foodborne illness this year. Typically, you start to feel sick, develop diarrhea and/or vomiting, and start feeling better all in the same day - a 24 hour flu that isn't the flu!
- The visible costs grossly understate the reality:
- Lost work: estimated at billions of dollars each year!
- Lost customers: will never return to that restaurant!
- 2,400,000 Doctor visits
- About 5% of the people who get sick from food see a doctor: they may be weak and dehydrated from the food flu, or they may have a more serious illness, such as Hepatitis A. Most recover in one to three weeks but chronic conditions often are an unexpected consequence.
- Regulatory action: tracking & shutting down that restaurant.
- 128,000 Hospitalizations
- Some people become very sick, especially children less than 6 years old, pregnant women, adults over 60, and people with other medical conditions, such as liver disease, cancer, organ transplants or immunodeficiency. Many suffer long lasting effects, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome, causing life-long suffering and cost.
- Legal action: litigation, fines and settlement costs
- 3000 Deaths
- While most people recover from foodborne illness, many don't. About 8-10 people die each day from something they ate or drank. Highly susceptible people are most at risk, but some foodborne diseases have unusually high mortality rates even among the healthy (these include Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio parahemoliticus, and E. coli 0157 H:7)
- Media: the worst publicity...Continues for weeks.
- Lost customers: other restaurants chosen.
- Depression: personal toll on owners/managers/staff