The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in six Americans get sick from contaminated food every year. In one recent outbreak, Salmonella in raw tuna was said to cause at least 200 people to become ill, and an outbreak of Listeria in cantaloupe sickened as many as 146 in addition to resulting in 30 fatalities.
Just by knowing where these germs may be lurking can help you to avoid them. Here is a look at five of the most common culprits of harmful food bacteria.
E.coli is one of the most prevalent forms of food bacteria that live in the intestines of humans and animals like cows, sheep and goats. It is often found in foods like undercooked meat, raw milk and juice as well as contaminated water.
Most strains are harmless and actually benefit their host by producing vitamin K and preventing pathogenic bacteria from taking up residence, but there are several strains that are responsible for various infections, including food poisoning.
Symptoms of an E.coli infection include severe diarrhea, stomach pains and vomiting that can last 5 to 10 days. To avoid an infection, it’s important to cook meat well in addition to washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating or cooking. Most strains are fairly harmless, but those like E.coli 0157:H7 can cause bloody diarrhea, kidney failure and even death.
Campylobacter is a spiral-shaped bacteria that grows in chickens and cows, infecting them without signs of illness; however, it can cause a gastrointestinal infection in humans.
People are usually infected by drinking contaminated food, water or unpasteurized milk. Most become ill for 3 to 5 days, but in about 20 percent of the cases, symptoms may persist for two weeks or longer and can occasionally cause illness severe enough to require hospitalization.
Symptoms of campylobacter include diarrhea, cramping, stomach pain and fever; diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting that lasts for about one week.
Vibrio bacteria is found in saltwater, often in raw seafood. Eating raw or undercooked shellfish that contain the bacteria can cause illness typically within 24 hours, with symptoms that include watery diarrhea and stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Most people who are healthy don’t get sick even when becoming infected; however, those with compromised immune systems, liver or kidney disease, or diabetes can become very ill.
Salmonella is a group of bacteria that is commonly found in raw poultry, eggs, beef and sometimes unwashed fruits and vegetables. An infection can occur in humans and animals resulting in symptoms like fever, diarrhea, stomach cramps and headache, typically lasting between 4 to 7 days.
Most people do not require treatment, but the infection can be more serious in the elderly, infants and those with chronic conditions. It can spread to other organs via the blood and even lead to death in rare cases if not treated properly.
Toxoplasma is a disease caused by a parasite. Most people who are infected don’t get sick, although some may develop swollen glands, muscle aches and feel as if they have the flu. It is passed to people from contaminated cat feces often by cleaning cat litter or touching dirt where cats may have been such as garden soil. It can also be passed to people when eating meat that isn’t cooked completely, particularly with pork, lamb or venison.
Prevent food poisoning by taking precautions, such as washing your hands thoroughly before preparing any foods and keeping meat and poultry products in separate bags. Do not let the raw flesh touch any other food products while shopping or at home.
Keep your kitchen clean and use separate chopping boards for preparing raw meats/poultry and vegetables. Be sure to cook foods thoroughly, especially red meat, poultry and eggs – keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
-The Alternative Daily