You may have heard the ironic news that attendees at the Food Safety Summit in Baltimore last April reported symptoms of food poisoning. An investigation by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found the illnesses were likely caused by Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens), bacteria that appears mostly in meat products and is the result of a failure to hold foods at a high enough temperature.
I was one of the 200+ conference attendees that experienced the food poisoning! It was an experience that I, a BAC Fighter and employee of the Partnership for Food Safety Education, was surprised to have at a food safety meeting (I mean- come on!).
The sleepless and long night of discomfort I experienced did make clear how important it is that everyone play their part in preventing food poisoning, and that a culture that engages everyone in keeping food safe is critical to reducing food poisoning and its severe health impacts.
As Mike Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine recently stated, “…We’re not talking about lots of stomach aches. We’re talking about life-changing illness in many cases.” For me, the C. Perfringens incidence demonstrated how important it is that young people learn about the risk of food poisoning, and also learn the healthy food handling habits that can be carried into adulthood.
This experience also shows why the work of BAC Fighters [YOU!] is ever more important. Using Fight BAC!® materials to reach youth and families in your communities is critical to establishing life-long healthy behaviors that reduce the risk of food poisoning. And when young people enter the food service workforce, safe food handling practices will be second nature!
Because food safety education isn’t about preventing a few stomach aches. It’s about reducing the risk of potentially life-changing illness.