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Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning
Food Poisoning
Causes and Risk Factors

Food poisoning
Also known as food borne illness, foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites account for 76 million cases of sickness annually in the U.S. alone. But what is food poisoning? And what types of food poisoning can you get?

What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning, also called bacterial gastroenteritis or infectious diarrhea, is any type of illness caused by eating contaminated food. Whether in the home or in a processing plant, food can become contaminated at any point. Improper handling, cooking, or storage can leave food susceptible to infectious organisms and toxins. Unfortunately, most any food can be potentially hazardous, as certain foods are highly susceptible to specific bacteria, and may look, smell and taste normal: 

  • cooked pasta
  • cooked rice
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • meat
  • poultry
  • prepared salads
  • prepared fruit salads
  • seafood
  • small goods (salami, hams)

Types of bacteria and viruses
Food must be heated properly to kill organisms because freezing or refrigerating food merely slows bacteria growth.  Foods you buy, for example may already have been contaminated. Meats can be contaminated during processing. Produce can pick up bacteria during harvesting, packing, shipping, and storage, even from the field itself. Even food that is cooked can swiftly become harmful if left unstored for as little as 2 hours.  Types of bacteria than commonly contaminate food include:

Botulism (clostridium botulinum) – Foods that are improperly sealed, held at room temperature for extended periods of time, or low in acid content are susceptible to this bacteria. Botulism usually occurs in tin cans, especially for meat products like salami, hams, and sausages, regardless of expiration date. Signs of contamination include damaged containers, milkiness in clear liquids, and an unusual odor.

Campylobacteriosis (campylobacter jejuni) – Bacteria can be present in meat, poultry, milk, and raw/undercooked shellfish. Sources are untreated drinking water or infected pets.

E. Coli (hemorrhagic colitis) This type of bacteria can be present in drinking water, raw/rare ground beef and unpasteurized milk and is usually transmitted via water tainted from raw sewage.

Hepatitis A (infectious hepatitis) – Hep A is actually a virus that can be present in uncooked food, especially shellfish harvested from contaminated water. Can also be spread by humans during food prep and originates in water tainted from raw sewage.

Listeriosis (listeria monocytogenes) – This bacteria may appear in raw meat and seafood, unpasteurized dairy products, and raw vegetables exposed to infected manure. Listeriosis comes from untreated water, food processing, human/animal waste, but can also be naturally occurring.

Perfringens (clostridium perfringens) – Known as the “buffet germ” , this bacteria grows quickly where food may not be properly heated, like chafing dishes, and in leftover food

Salmonella (salmonellosis) – Salmonella can contaminate raw, undercooked food like meat, eggs, and poultry and is frequently spread by surface contact, including food preparation.

Shigellosis (shigella bacteria) – This bacteria can appear in most any food mixed or handled at room temperature, or undercooked food. Shigellosis is human spread due to unsanitary habits.

Staph (staphylococcus aureus) – Staph bacteria is spread to salads, cheese, meats, eggs, poultry, foods with custard or cream and produce toxins at room temperature.  Staph is carried on the skin of those infected and transferred to food.

Viral gastroenteritis -  People usually contract this type of virus from raw or undercooked shellfish. Viral gastroenteritis is carried by those infected and is transferred to food.

What causes food poisoning? And how does bacteria grow?  More on basic types of food poisoning in the causes and risk factors section that follows, including most likely causes of food poisoning.

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Tags: food poisoning, food, bacterial gastroenteritis, bacteria and viruses, gastroenteritis, drinking water, temperature, hepatitis a, infectious, organisms, Hepatitis, bacterial, infected, Diarrhea, bacteria, drinking, cooking, Colitis, periods, aureus
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