Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Field Of Germs: Food Safety Is In Farm Worker's Hands

Date:
February 23, 2009
Source:
Temple University
Summary:
Food safety policy experts say protocols need to look beyond dirty processing plants. Farm workers aren't required to be vaccinated, which presents an increased threat for the spread of disease, particularly among foods that do not require cooking.

Farm workers harvesting yellow bell peppers near Gilroy, California.
Credit: iStockphoto/Nancy Nehring

The recent salmonella outbreak linked to 575 illnesses and eight deaths across 43 states was shown to come from a dirty peanut processing plant in Georgia. And while it is essential for food processing plants to be clean and sanitary, Temple public health professor Jennifer Ibrahim, Ph.D., says officials need to consider other possible sources of illness.

"Right now, all of the focus is on the state of the peanut processing plant, but no one is really looking at the bigger picture — where else can illness be passed along to the food?" she said.

In a report published in the March issue of the Journal of Environmental Health, Ibrahim specifically highlights farm workers themselves — those who handle the food before it even gets to the plants — as another potential source for food borne illness.

"Farm workers tend to be a transitory group, so you might have someone working in the field who hasn't been doing this for very long, and might not be aware that what they're doing can be harmful," said Ibrahim.

She adds that farm workers aren't required to be vaccinated, which presents an increased threat for the spread of disease, particularly among foods that do not require cooking.

"The current food safety system is very reactive in that policies aren't really looked at until a major event happens," said Ibrahim. "But how often do you hear about friends or family having a bout of food poisoning? It highlights a need to be proactive and re-evaluate the processes of the FDA and USDA to ensure things don't fall though the cracks."

In her report, Ibrahim lists a few basic practices that can help prevent the spread of food borne disease by farm workers:

  • Vaccinate all workers at hire. Ibrahim notes that farm workers typically only spend about 150 days on a particular farm before moving onto the next. To prevent workers from contracting and spreading infection, she suggests vaccinating each worker on their hire date. "Preventing cases of food borne illness are more cost-effective than treating them," she said.
  • Get tough on enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Many companies are lax in providing their farm workers with adequate plumbing and hand washing facilities in the field, a requirement of the act, passed in 1970. "Not providing workers with the appropriate amenities for waste disposal and hand washing increases the risk of outbreaks of illnesses like E. coli and Salmonella," said Ibrahim.
  • Provide understandable information on sanitation. Because many field workers are immigrants, Ibrahim says it's imperative to provide culturally competent ways to educate workers about disease prevention and treatment.

"By setting these practices, it can only serve to help the public, not just by preventing illness but improving the overall quality of the food supply," said Ibrahim. "And that could result in better health outcomes, both here and around the world."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Temple University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Temple University. "Field Of Germs: Food Safety Is In Farm Worker's Hands." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220074835.htm>.
Temple University. (2009, February 23). Field Of Germs: Food Safety Is In Farm Worker's Hands. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220074835.htm
Temple University. "Field Of Germs: Food Safety Is In Farm Worker's Hands." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220074835.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital walked down the stairs of an executive jet into an ambulance at an airport in Frederick, Maryland, on Thursday. Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) A Caribbean cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of the Ebola virus is heading back to Texas, US, after being refused permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) All four suspected Ebola cases admitted to hospitals in Spain on Thursday have tested negative for the deadly virus in a first round of tests, the government said Friday. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins