January 6, 2021

Study Highlights Risks of Food Poisoning With Online Food Ordering

With the coronavirus pandemic making consumers uneasy to step into a store, online food ordering has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, a new study using whole genome sequencing found that an outbreak of Salmonella in Shenzhen, China has been linked to online food orders. There are risks of food poisoning with online food ordering.

Study Highlights Risks of Food Poisoning With Online Food Ordering

Because most restaurants around the country are closed, reports of multistate food poisoning outbreaks have plummeted. But many of those facilities are delivering food to consumers. An outbreak may still occur, but it may not be caught by public health officials just because people are sheltering in place.

And don’t panic just yet; there are things you can do to protect yourself. And this outbreak occurred in July 2018.

The Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention investigated the outbreak using whole genome sequencing (WGS) to identified and delineate this outbreak from the sporadic cases that arise throughout the year. Ten people sick with diarrhea were reported at two hospitals but those cases were not reported to the government.

When officials sere notified, 21 samples were collected during the investigation. Samples were taken from seven case-patients and 14 samples from the implicated restaurant. The patients, university students, all ate chicken leg and rice from the same restaurant near the university. The students were from six different colleges of the same university but lived in different dorms.

Of those 21 samples, nine were positive for Salmonella Enteriditis, including from five chicken legs and four from patients. Five more cases were identified with the same pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern one month after the initial outbreak. But, no clear epidemiologic links were found between the 10 sporadic cases and the outbreak.

Online food delivery service does pose food safety risks, including improper storage temperature during transport, and improper handling of the food itself. The time between food preparation to delivery was two hours, which is plenty of time for bacteria to multiply on the chicken.

So how do you protect yourself from the risks of food poisoning with online food ordering? Beside the social distancing practices which have now become routine (no direct contact with the delivery person, wiping down food containers, and transferring the food to your own containers), it’s important. to make sure that food delivered to your home is at a safe temperature when you eat it. That usually means reheating the food to 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. If you do that, the chances of getting sick from delivered food decrease dramatically.

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