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Food Poisoning Causes and Risk Factors

Food Poisoning Causes and Risk Factors
Food Poisoning
Causes and Risk Factors

What causes food poisoning?
The organisms that can lead to food poisoning are present all across the landscape of our daily environment, from the earth, air, and water to the humans and animals that utilize them. The most common cause of food poisoning is the presence of harmful bacteria. However, food can become contaminated by viruses, environmental toxins, or toxins naturally occurring within the food itself (poisons in mushrooms, seafood, or plants).

How does bacteria grow?
Given the right conditions, bacteria can multiply rapidly. Here are some of the common factors that contribute to the growth of bacteria:

Nutrient source – Bacteria utilize the nutrients in dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and seafood to grow.

PH – Ideal growth mediums have differing levels of acidity or alkalinity. PH is a measure of these levels. For instance, foods with low pH can be acidic enough to kill bacteria.

Poor handling/storage – As animals may carry pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli, care must be taken in its transport, processing, storage, and preparation to lower contamination risks.

Temperature – Food must be kept very cold or very hot to avoid providing ideal growth conditions. Food temperature falling in the 5˚-60˚ ranges puts food at risk of bacterial growth.

Time – Given sufficient time, bacteria can multiply in large numbers.

Water – Without moisture, bacteria will not grow. This why some food, like jerky, is dried before consumed.

Risk factors
Not everyone will fall ill after consuming contaminated food. Factors of age, overall health, and type or degrees of contamination determine the type and severity of food poisoning a person will experience. People most seriously affected by food poisoning include infants, older people, and people diagnosed with conditions that weaken the immune system. This is frequently due to low immune function in these groups as the body cannot properly fight off the various infections.
High-risk groups for food poisoning include:

Infants and young children – Risk of food poisoning is increased as babies’ immune systems are not fully developed. The risk is gerater because infants and young children tend to dehydrate faster during an episode of food poisoning due to diarrhea and vomiting.

International travelers - People who travel to countries outside the United States are at a higher risk for getting food poisoning due to poor sanitation and/or contaminated water. Most people, for example, don’t develop immunity to types of bacteria that exist elsewhere, of which escherichia coli is the most common.

Older adults - As you age, the immune system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as during younger years.

People with chronic disease - Chronic conditions such as AIDS, diabetes, or liver disorders can weaken immune response and increase risk of food poisoning.

People treated for cancer – People who receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer can experience food poisoning more frequently as a result of a reduced immune response.

Pregnant women-During pregnancy, changes in metabolism and circulation may increase risk of food poisoning.

Some of the organisms that cause food poisoning may give off no detectable signs. Therefore, we must make sure that we handle, prepare and store our food properly. But what are the signs of bacterial or viral food poisoning? How can you tell the difference, for example, between a stomach flu and a bout of food poisoning? Continue reading here to learn more. The next section outlines the common signs and symptoms of food poisoning here.

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Tags: food poisoning, food, radiation therapy for cancer, radiation therapy, bacterial growth, Chemotherapy, temperature, infections, infectious, metabolism, alkalinity, bacterial, Pregnancy, radiation, organisms, Diarrhea, symptoms, vomiting, bacteria, Diabetes
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