Food-borne illness is serious and it is unfortunate that it usually is only brought to our attention after a significant outbreak, like what is currently unfolding at Humber College – North Campus.

The number of people who have affected by the outbreak at Humber College has risen to nearly 200 as officials fight to understand its cause, Toronto Public Health said Saturday.
As the illness was first brought to the public’s attention on Thursday, Humber College is doubling their efforts in cleaning and sanitizing, while members of the community are double their efforts of personal hygiene, such as handwashing!

The Probe It Food Handler Certification course provides various details about the the many types of food-borne illness, their causes, and preventive measure that should be taken. Although the causative agent in this outbreak  has not yet been identified, it is likely to be a virus.Viruses are very small micro-organisms that do not multiply on food. Viruses multiply by growing in a living cell. A relatively small amount of virus is enough to cause illness in humans. The most common way food can become contaminated with a virus is by food handlers hands.

The simplest and most effective was on preventing the spread of viruses is to stay home when ill and to practice proper handwashing.

Hands should be washed using the 6 steps of handwashing:

  1. Wet hands using warm water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Lather and apply friction for a minimum of 15-20 seconds. Criss-cross fingers to clean in between the fingers. Using a nail brush can help remove pathogens that hide in the nail bed. Ensure between the fingers
  4. Rinse hands downwards with clean warm water.
  5. Dry hands with single-use paper towel or hot air. Do not wipe hands on clothes, cloths or aprons.
  1. Turn off tap with paper towel.

DON’T FORGET: If able, open the door with paper towel.

Common Viruses to Cause Illness:

Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A virus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, i.e. when a person ingest contaminated faeces of an ill person. This can either happen through consuming contaminated water, consuming food that has been washed with contaminated water (fruits/vegetables), poor personal hygiene, improper hand washing. Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, nausea and jaundice. Hepatitis A infection can be prevented by consuming and using only potable (drinkable) water, and practices good personal hygiene, such as frequent hand washing.

Norovirus: Norovirus can be transmitted via the stool or vomit of an infected individual. Contamination usually occurs by an infected food handler that carries the virus and practice poor personal hygiene (poor handwashing). Illness can also arise with food source contamination, such as oysters and other shell fish. They can become contaminated if they have been in contact with sewage before thing harvested. Symptoms include can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.

Remember food-borne illnesses are preventable – it starts with you.  Become a Certified Food Handler and be aware and stay safe. Register for the food handler certificate course online or classroom session and learn about many other ways that you can protect yourself, your family and friends from food-borne illnesses.

Get updates on the outbreak by visiting: http://www.humber.ca/today/news/important-community-update-regarding-health-issues-north-campus