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Health experts on food safety as product recalls continue

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Shelves at stores sit empty as food recalls continue. Dozens of products removed from stores in the last several weeks — including popular brands like Goldfish and Ritz Crackers.

Boone County health officials say contamination can happen easily if a mistake is made during production.

“You have so many hands touching the food before it gets to you,” said Boone County Health Department environmental inspector Michelle Gibson. “You can get a bacteria from the soil, you can get it from someone picking up vegetables and didn’t wash their hands.”

Gibson says while it might start like a common stomach ache — foodborne illnesses symptoms will continue to worsen if infected.

“Mostly you’re looking at diarrhea and vomiting,” said Gibson. “[But also,] abdominal cramps, flu-like symptoms, muscle weakness or soreness, headache fever.”

Vickie Miramontes says her mother experienced those symptoms after eating a salmonella contaminated frozen pizza. She says her mother spent 16 days in the intense care unit. Now, she takes food recalls seriously.

“If you hear about it, you’re afraid to eat it,” said Miramontes. “I wouldn’t want to go through what she went to.”

Kelcie Letzter says as a mom to a 20-month old daughter, she immediately checks her kitchen after hearing about any recalled items.

“Keeping me safe is one thing but keeping my kid safe is my top priority,” said Letzter. “It’s scary when you buy something packaged that’s supposed to be fine to eat and even fresh foods that are supposed to be healthy options are contaminated.”

Health officials say if residents find themselves infected by a foodborne illness, it’s important to inform their local health department. Investigators then can keep track of the infection and work to prevent any spreading.

“Our job is to get that education and information out as soon as possible,” said Boone County Health Department public health administrator Amanda Mehl.

For a full list of Ritz Cracker products recalled, click here.

For a full list of Goldfish Cracker products recalled, click here

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