Health Inspectors Head to Food School

Ahh, to get paid to play with your food. It might have looked that way at a Tyler hotel, but what the dozens of inspectors were doing might one day save your life.

"Foodborne illnesses are generally underinvestigated and underanalyzed."

Simple pudding was getting a bit overanalyzed by food safety inspectors from all over Texas. Their goal: get a quick diagnosis if a virus or bacteria is in the food.   But first, it was a matter of getting the pudding in the bag without touching any of it at all.

Clifford Burdy of the Center for Food Safety says: "Foodborne illness in the United States is more common than the common cold."

There are 76 million reported cases a year. Some people die. Others chalk it up to a bug.  But, it's the job of these folks to quickly find out the cause.

Brenda Elrod, of the Smith County Public Health District says: "It's a situation where the food becomes contaminated either by the food handler or by the food itself.  Then through improper temperatures and time, we have problems with it growing and surviving and making us sick."

In the end, everyone was sick of being a pudding detective. But it's an important lesson-- because like a sleuth, they arrive at what seems the scene of a crime. And their job is to solve it.