Food manufacturers are constantly reminded about the nearly 76 million people in the United States each year who are affected by some type of food-borne illness.

In turn, many in the media – and elsewhere – often site these statistics to support misguided arguments that the safety of consumer food products is trending downward.

While improvements in national food-borne illness surveillance and reporting explain the recent increase in food product recalls and outbreaks, the reality is that with increased corporate and industry awareness, new interventions and emerging food safety technologies, the food we buy is the safest it has ever been.

What, then, explains the large number of annual food-borne illnesses?

People – not products.

Indeed, less cited statistics confirm that approximately 70 percent of food-borne illnesses (or, over 50 million cases annually) have nothing to do with the underlying safety of food. Rather, the majority of illnesses are caused by contamination where food products are prepared. As a result, if consumers and those who handle foods simply wash their hands, and prepare foods appropriately, most illnesses can be eradicated.

In turn, Dr. Peter Snyder, President of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, advocates a simple solution. In a recent presentation, Dr. Snyder explains quite effectively how food handlers can exponentially reduce the risk of food-borne illness by following some very basic and simple hand washing techniques:

 

          

 

While we should never relent in our efforts to produce food that is as safe as possible, those who actually prepare and consume food also need to understand that the risks of food-borne illness can, in most instances, be virtually eliminated in the kitchen.

Thus, enjoy the presentation, and join us in giving Dr. Snyder a hand.