food safety

Food Safety for People with Diabetes

Food safety is important for everyone—but it’s especially important for people with diabetes. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety

and Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration offer this information to provide practical guidance on how to reduce your risk of foodborne illness. In addition to this guide, you’d be wise to check with your physician or health care provider to identify foods and other products that you should avoid. You have a special need for this important information . . . so read on!

Foodborne Illness in the United States

When certain disease-causing bacteria, viruses or parasites contaminate

food, they can cause foodborne illness. Another word for such a bacteria,

virus, or parasite is “pathogen.” Foodborne illness, often called food poisoning,

is an illness that comes from a food you eat.

  • The food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world—but it can still be a source of infection for all persons.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million persons get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne infection and illness in the United States each year. Many of these people are children, older adults, or have weakened immune systems and may not

be able to fight infection normally. Since foodborne illness can be serious—or even fatal—it is important foryou to know and practice safe food-handling behaviors to help reduce yourrisk of getting sick from contaminated food.

Food Safety: It’s Especially Important for Diabetics

As a person with diabetes, you are not alone—there are many people in the United States with this chronic disease. Diabetes can affect various organs and systems of your body, causing them not to function properly, and making you more susceptible to infection. For example:

  • Your immune system, when functioning properly, readily fights off harmful bacteria and other pathogens that cause infection. With diabetes, your immune system may not readily recognize harmful bacteria or other pathogens. This delay in the body’s natural response to foreign invasion places a person with diabetes at increased risk for infection.
  • Your gastrointestinal tract, when functioning properly, allows the foods and beverages you consume to be digested normally. Diabetes may damage the cellsthat create stomach acid and the nerves that helpyour stomach and intestinal tract move the food throughout the intestinal tract. Because of this damage, your stomach may hold on to the food and beverages you consume for a longer period of time, allowing harmful bacteria and other pathogens to grow.
  • Additionally, your kidneys, which work to cleanse the body, may not be functioning properly and may hold on to harmful bacteria, toxins, and otherpathogens.