This is a guest article by Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks.

Food poisoning occurs far more than one might think. This is evidenced by the increased number of recalls for Salmonella and E. coli alone in just 2010 and 2011. But obtaining the statistics from the FDA, USDA and CDC required a cross between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. We will offer the statistics first and then, in a second blog, explain why these stats are so inconsistent and how they are accumulated and manipulated by these agencies.

Anyone who has had more than a “mild” case of a food-borne illness often says “they felt as if they wanted to die”. Food-borne illnesses cause lost productivity, expensive medical care along with potential serious complications and/or chronic disabilities.

Common symptoms of food-borne diseases are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. But symptoms can also range from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening neurologic, hepatic and renal syndromes that can lead to death. Food-borne illnesses can also lead to residual illnesses ranging from arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, kidney pain and countless other debilitating problems that can plague victims for the rest of their lives. For example, from 1990-2001, kidney disease increased 104% – from 697 to 1,424 cases per million.

Food-borne illnesses are especially dangerous to pregnant women, children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system. The New York Times recently reported that children under the age of four are more often victims of food poisoning than any other age group. Adults over 50 suffer the highest number of hospitalizations and death.

The statistics are dramatic and startling. In 1999, the CDC estimated that:

*    There are more than 200 known food-borne illnesses and diseases.

*    They were responsible for 76 million illnesses.

*    More than 325,000 hospitalizations.

*    More than 5,000 deaths a year.

*    As of 2011, between 200,000 and 800,000 adults are hospitalized (1 out of every 6 Americans) daily.

*    Known pathogens account for an estimated 14 million illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths.

*    According to the CDC, Salmonella, Listeria, Toxoplasma and other known pathogens are responsible for 1,500 deaths a year.

*    Unknown pathogens account for the remaining 62 million illnesses, 265,000 hospitalizations and 3,200 deaths.

Some people have routinely adjusted these stats by 13% a year across the board since 1999. How and why is the topic of our companion blog. The 2010 adjusted number for food-borne illnesses is about 86 million a year and more than 9,000 deaths a year. This does not include unreported illnesses and victims.

According to WHO, the list is expanding. Most new illnesses on the list are caused by a variety of microorganisms, viruses, bacteria, parasites, protazoa, worms and prions that can be found in the food. The most significant of the new agents may be “prions” which have been linked to the cause of mad cow diseases. There has been an increase in known, unknown, infectious and noninfectious illnesses, including E. coli infections.

Other diseases are caused by harmful natural toxins (i.e., poisonous mushrooms), genetically modified foods that transfer bacteria from plants to the human digestive system and chemicals (pesticides) that have contaminated food.

There is no one “syndrome” that typifies a food-borne illness. Microbes and/or toxins enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract and often cause the first symptoms. Some pathogens may escape the digestive tract and cause septicaemia, meningitis or a localized internal infection. Infections are usually characterized by the rapid onset (within hours or days) of symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea which can last for a few hours or days even in healthy people.

Most Top Five lists include Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii and norovirus. Considering the number of E. coli recalls in the last year, it is surprising that it did not make the list. The estimated cost of reported illnesses on these lists, including economic losses, is $12.7 billion per year. The statistical numbers with all of these illnesses have increased with the increase in the number of factory farms and genetically engineered foods. One cause is the polluting of our meat sources by pushing sick and dead animals into slaughter.

Campylobacter Bacteria.  The last years of the 20th century saw the emergence of Campylobacter bacteria. It infects more than 2 million people in the U.S. every year. The estimated economic cost exceeds $1.3 billion.

It is found in the intestines of many wild and domestic animals and is frequently passed by animal’s feces. Humans become infected through contaminated food, meats (especially poultry) and water taken from contaminated sources such as streams or rivers near where animals graze.

Once ingested, this bacteria infects and attacks the lining of both the small and large intestines causing inflammation in the bowel. In those with compromised immune systems, this bacteria has been known to cross into the bloodstream causing bacteremia.

Salmonella.  Salmonella, a bacterial infection, has increased dramatically since the 1990’s and is considered the top food-borne illness. It is transmitted to humans when feces from animals, directly or indirectly, contaminate foods. Salmonella may also be found in sprouts and raw almonds.

Most Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals and birds. However, it can also be transmitted from the infected feces of one animal to another animal. This is a prime reason why the factory farming of livestock is likely to be the primary cause of the increase in statistics since the 1990s. Salmonella is also transferred from animal to human and/or from human to human. Sadly, animals and humans are becoming unwilling petri dishes.

According to the FDA’s 2001 estimates, Salmonella caused 1,203,650 illnesses, including 14,000 hospitalizations and 494 deaths (FDA, 2009) – about 10% of food-borne illness annually. In addition to the loss of life, it is estimated that it costs America about $3 billion a year.

Since the early 2000’s, poultry has become a common source of Salmonella because of the likelihood that chickens confined on factory farms will pass Salmonella to each other. It is passed through their feces, contaminated water and the untreated manure, ankle-deep in crammed quarters. Also any food can become contaminated, if it is handled by an infected person with unwashed hands, or if the food comes in contact with another food that is contaminated.

Now Salmonella can be found intact inside perfectly normal looking Grade A eggs. Current strains silently infect the ovaries of healthy looking hens. Eggs are contaminated even before the shells are formed. Infected hens can lay many normal eggs while only occasionally laying contaminated eggs. Raw or half-cooked eggs from factory farms are now detrimental to your health.

According to the CDC, Salmonella infections are now present in hens all around the country. Contamination was clearly found in the 550,000 million eggs recalled from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms in 2010.

From 2000 to 2005, the USDA examined the meat of broiler chickens and found that an average of 1 in 8 were contaminated. Among the chickens that tested positive for Salmonella, 1 in 20 were contaminated.

Salmonella symptoms can include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Symptoms begin 12 to 72 hours after consuming the contaminated food or beverage. Illness usually lasts from 4 to 7 days and requires prompt medical attention. Early diagnosis can help prevent the illness from spreading within your body reducing the risk of complications.

Salmonella can invade the bloodstream moving to other body parts causing life-threatening infections. Left untreated or found in persons with weakened immune systems, it can require hospitalization. Pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly and people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, taking steroid medications or undergoing chemotherapy face the greatest risk.

Some Salmonella bacterias carry a 5–10% mortality among children. However, the majority recover without major consequence. Sadly, a small proportion develop chronic kidney disease and become reliant on renal replacement therapy.

The CDC recently put out a pamphlet stating that anyone raising any type of chickens must wash their hands every time they touch one. They also recommend that you clean, separate, cook using a thermometer and chill food at 40 degrees within two hours of cooking. It is no longer safe to handle the factory farmed meats you bring home without carefully washing your hands. You may consider wearing gloves while handling any raw meat from a factory farm. Butchers and other meat preparers almost always wear them.

Many suggest that you don’t let any raw non-organic meat touch your counter without scrubbing the counter afterward. Safely put all blood-stained wrappings for these meats into a bag and keep it away from anything you may touch or anything your kids can get into. Do not let any raw meat touch your children.

Calicivirus, or Norwalk-like Virus.  Calicivirus, or Norwalk-like virus is another common food-borne illness. It is thought to be spread person to person. It causes acute gastrointestinal illness that includes more vomiting than diarrhea. However, Calicivirus is rarely diagnosed, because the laboratory test is not widely available. When diagnosed, it normally resolves within two days.

Another example comes from a recent study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute showed that nearly half (47%) percent of the meat and poultry in grocery stores were contaminated with S. aureus, with more than half (52%) of those bacteria resistant to antibiotics. We could go on and on with the statistical data outlining the newly found food-borne illnesses and diseases. It is never ending. But the one common thread is the oral-fecal route of passing the illnesses to humans.

Explanations for Food-borne Illnesses
.  There are many explanations offered for the transmission of food-borne illnesses. The industry and their political-influenced arms, the FDA and USDA, blame the handlers at the food source. One need only look at the Salmonella recalls of 2009 and 2010 to see that this is not true. The causes are breeding grounds for filth, feces and contaminated water.

Handlers had to contract the bacteria from somewhere before they could pass it onto another person. This was certainly true of the rat-infested plants responsible for the 2009 recall of peanut butter and the 2010 recall of eggs. The FDA and USDA preferred to blame the peanut butter recall on Mexican lettuce than blame American food manufacturers.

There is an estimated $70 million spent annually on antibiotics to treat animals ill from Campylobacter bacteria, infectious E. coli and/or salmonella and others from the list of 250 food-borne illnesses.

There are more than 22,000 factory farms in the U.S. affected by untreated manure stored in Manure Lagoons, larger than football fields that are stored up to a year. As of 2007, there were more than 97 million cattle in the U.S. excreting fourteen times as much fecal matter as humans a day – a total of about 1.35 billion pounds of fecal matter a day.  And this does not include the more than150 million gallons of urine a day from the same cattle. Where does all of this waste go?

Imagine a Manure Lagoon made up of human urine and feces in an equal amount, stored next to your home for up to a year, and you can understand the inherent dangers of this practice.

The food industry ignores the fact that manure from Manure Lagoons undergoes a radical transformation during storage. This transformation creates compounds that are not only foul-smelling, but toxic.

The toxic compounds are created through putrefaction (rotting manure) caused by a lack of oxygen in liquid manure storage reservoirs that decompose, but never complete the process, because of insufficient oxygen. During this process more than 300 toxic compounds are produced.

The is made worse by spraying livestock with pesticides. And confinement buildings with no windows causing the animals to become ill which lowers their immunity and makes them carriers of food-borne bacterias and toxins.

Factory farmers even spread this untreated manure on the ground and on snow in the winter to reduce the cost of getting rid of it. Untreated animal waste contains viruses, parasites, worms and bacteria and other contaminates, that are the exact causes described in each of the food-borne illnesses. Human waste, on the contrary, is treated to reduce contamination in sewerage plants before disposal.

If a 7-acre Manure Lagoon in Iowa can legally leak as much as 16 million gallons (equal to more than 600 swimming pools) of untreated liquefied manure annually, just imagine how many different forms of the 250 food-borne illnesses are contained in any those leaks? Every human that walks on the ground sprayed with factory farmed manure is a possible carrier of all these food-borne illnesses.

How bad is it at factory farms? Their employees are suppose to wear quasi-Hazmat suits every day and wash every time they enter or exit a CAFO. By any description, factory farms are a breeding ground for food-borne illness and disease. Sadly, all of the health problems created on factory farms are eventually passed onto humans.

This begs the question, “How many contaminates are passed to you every time you remove that meat from the package to cook it for your family?” And “How many contaminates are passed on inh the morning Egg McMuffin or egg breakfast at home?”

If we do not change the way we farm our food and livestock and how we view our daily meals, it is a just matter of when, not if, you or a family member will become one of the statistics.

No matter how often or how much Big Agra and Big Food corporations want to deny culpability, the number of recalls and ill Americans proves otherwise. No adjustments to the statistics or qualifiers can hide the truth any longer. They know the truth and independent scientists are repeatedly proving the truth, despite efforts to silence them.

Only by looking at the dramatic increase in reported ulcers, intestinal inflammation, IBD, IBS, Crohn’s and colon cancer can Americans conclude for themselves how many people are being made ill by food-borne illnesses from their daily meals?

There are more than 600,000 Americans alone who have reported “some kind of inflammatory bowel disease” (IBD) every year. A September 16, 2010 study conducted by Cell Host & Microbe and the Harvard School of Public Health found that, “… certain bacteria that inhabit the intestines provides the environmental trigger that initiates and perpetuates chronic intestinal inflammation in individuals who are genetically susceptible to inflammatory bowel disease.”

In the CDC report, chronic kidney failure related to causes other than hypertension and diabetes increased by 64%. These stats are no accident. Some attribute the increase to undiagnosed food-borne illnesses.

Lead investigator Wendy Garrett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard said, “In this study, we identified two microbes that instigate gut inflammation that leads to inflammatory bowel disease ….” Other researchers, including a retired Monsanto scientist, attribute the bacteria to genetically modified foods.

Crohn’s and IBD are chronic inflammatory disorders that afflict more than 5 million people in the U.S., with approximately 30,000 new cases diagnosed each year. There is no way of telling how many of these cases are direct ties to food-borne illnesses because there is no specific test available nor statistics kept.

For example, Campylobactor bacteria causes inflammation of both the upper and lower bowel? Isn’t that the description of Crohn’s, IBD and IBS? Routine testing of stool samples on everyone with Crohn’s, IBD, IBS and other intestinal illnesses could determine how many events may have been related to a food-borne illness? As a result, these numbers are conspicuously missing from the FDA and CDC’s statistics.

More and more people can expect to become ill if they do not follow an organic diet and avoid the consequences of factory farmed meats and genetically modified foods. It is only logical! Any other choice could result in health problems for you and your family, if it hasn’t happened already.

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks, R.N., are the authors of award winning books – Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn’s, IBD and IBS – How to Eliminate Pain and Extend your Life (Books and Authors 2010 Best Books in the Health, Diet & Reference Categories) and Mannie’s Diet and Enzyme Formula – A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone (Blogger News Net 2010 Best Health And Nutrition Book Award winner) available at, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other booksellers around the world.

The authors’ latest book, It’s Not Your Fault – Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction is now available at, Amazon and booksellers everywhere.

Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks are the co-hosts of Surviving the 21st Century with Simon Barrett on Blogger News Network on Saturdays at 10:00 A.M. PST/1:00 PM EST found at or Blog Talk Radio.

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