CDC tackles food poisoning - CBS46 News

CDC tackles food poisoning

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Food poisoning is a serious problem nationwide. Every year, 48 million people become ill and 3,000 people die from foodborne illness outbreaks.

Every week, CBS46 News questions restaurant managers about critical health violations in our Restaurant Report Card segment.

It's violations like food at the wrong temperature and employees not washing their hands that can easily cause foodborne illnesses like salmonella, listeria and norovirus.

Jasmine Kearns became so sick from food poisoning, she was hospitalized.

"I had body aches, fever, a headache, diarrhea, nausea and it was just horrible," Kearns said.

Kearns got sick from eating contaminated lettuce and went to a Piedmont Urgent Care before being transferred to Northside Hospital. It took her a week to recover.

"I was completely bed ridden. It was hard to move, it was hard to function," Kearns said.

Now the Centers for Disease Control is taking action to address the problem. CDC Senior Public Health Advisor Carol Selman and her team have been studying foodborne illness outbreaks for 14 years and discovered a troubling trend.

"We learned that health inspectors really had a knowledge gap as far as what they were supposed to do whenever they went out and conducted an outbreak investigation," Selman said.

To help track the underlying causes of foodborne illnesses, the CDC launched a new e-learning course for health inspectors. It's a virtual training tool on how to identify reasons for food poisoning.

"This will help us understand the causes of foodborne outbreaks," Selman said.

You can take it too, and it's free. Plus, you can learn what questions to ask restaurant employees to make sure you're getting a healthy meal. The CDC has also established a new database for reporting outbreaks.

"So as we collect this information from each individual outbreak, we can begin to look at a national picture of outbreak events and how they occur and why they occur," Selman said.

Ultimately, the CDC would like to limit and even prevent an outbreak. Kearns said she's completely eliminated lettuce from her diet in hopes of avoiding a similar illness.

"I feel like a lot of people don't really know much about how you can get food poisoning and the cautions you can take to prevent it," Kearns said.

Keep in mind that restaurants in Georgia are only inspected once or twice a year, so it's up to you to watch out for key warning signs like servers that look or act sick and food preparers that are not wearing gloves. Also be careful of buffets, where food temperatures can vary.

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