Barbara

Stories

I want the life that I had before food poisoning back...

Nearly every two hours, a U.S. resident dies from a food-related illness.  Every year, nearly one in three Americans – including some 12.2 million Californians, myself among them- becomes seriously ill from food they thought was safe to eat, and some 325,000 wind up hospitalized.  Yet, despite these startling statistics and the recent highly publicized outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli found in Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated foods such as peanuts, spinach, sprouts, and other products, the best that Congress can come up with is a bill that calls for high-risk food facilities to be inspected only every six to 18 months.  Furthermore, this bill fails to give mandatory recall power to the FDA for all of the contaminated foods that they regulate.  While the bill is a step in the right direction, it falls far short of measures needed to protect Americans from avoidable illness and death.  We continue to rely on a 1940’s food safety system to regulate a 21st century food supply.  I know first hand what it means to suffer from a food-borne illness and mine is just one of millions of such stories.

In September of 2006, I was a 65 year old woman, healthy, and gainfully employed in the fashion industry.  I enjoyed working, volunteering extensively with victims of domestic violence, power walking, shopping, and living in Southern California just steps away from the Pacific Ocean.

I was one of more than 25 individuals who was sickened by salad at a work-related banquet in a California hotel.  My symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, and painful abdominal cramping were so severe that I went to a hospital emergency room for treatment.  This hospital visit was just the beginning of an ongoing battle with food poisoning that I am still fighting.  The virus-contaminated food caused severe damage to my entire gastrointestinal system; after three years I have been diagnosed with post-infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  I have visited area hospitals countless times, been through numerous diagnostic tests that have been invasive, painful, humiliating, and embarrassing.  I have developed further gastrointestinal issues, likely all related to eating that salad.  My post-infectious IBS is so severe that I am no longer working.  My bloating can be so bad at times that clothes do not fit.  I can never be too far from a bathroom.  My life has been completely altered by this preventable tragedy.

I was healthy with no prior complaints of bowel abnormalities before I became a victim of foodborne illness.  I do not want anyone else to have to suffer the way that I have.  I want the life that I had before food poisoning back.

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