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 July 23, 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 July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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:
from the past week

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