Food-borne Illness During Harvest Season

Due to the growing number of home gardeners this summer, including new gardeners, it is anticipated that more individuals will have questions during harvest time. Amanda Miller can be contacted during regular office hours to assist with any questions or concerns related to home food preservation. This includes a range of food preservation – from basic food storage, such as refrigeration and freezing, to more complex processes, like canning and dehydrating.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million people get sick every year from foodborne illness. This includes 128,000 hospitalized and 3,000 deaths. There are more than 250 identified foodborne diseases, most coming from a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause infections. In addition, harmful toxins and chemicals can also contaminate foods.

Symptoms range from mild to severe. Although anyone can get foodborne illnesses, some people are more likely to get sick, including older adults, young children, immunocompromised, and pregnant women.

The top 5 germs to cause foodborne illness include: norovirus, salmonella, clostridium perfringens, campylobacter, and staphylococcus aureus. Although less common, these germs cause the most serious of illnesses: clostridium botulinum (botulism), listeria, escherichia coli (E. coli), and vibrio.

Improper preparation, canning, and/or storage can cause bacteria, viruses, and molds to grow in canned foods. In particular, low acid foods (vegetables, mushrooms, meats) is one of the biggest causes of botulism. This is 100% preventable with proper home canning methods.

Miller uses the most up-to-date, evidence-based information to help home canners and food preservers do so safely and effectively. To follow safe home canning methods, learn about basic food storage, or about national food recalls, visit:

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