Keep A Clean Kitchen: Guide To Food Borne Illnesses
Keep A Clean Kitchen: Guide To Food Borne Illnesses
Food poisoning is unpleasant and can sometimes even be fatal. The best way to handle food poisoning is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Anyone who prepares or handles food should know the proper way handling the food to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Cooking food thoroughly and washing raw vegetables and fruit before eating prevent the spread of pathogens. To prevent cross-contamination, it’s important to keep kitchen surfaces clean. Dishes should be washed in water and counters and surfaces wiped down with a disinfectant after each meal.
The bacteria salmonella causes the illness salmonellosis. People get salmonellosis by eating foods that were contaminated with the bacteria, such as raw eggs, chicken and beef. The bacteria have been found in frozen foods and peanut butter as well. Common symptoms include diarrhea and cramps. Usually, the symptoms clear up on their own after about five days, though very severe cases require antibiotics. People can attempt to prevent salmonellosis by cooking foods thoroughly.
- Bad Bug Book: Salmonella - Description of salmonella and the illness it causes from the Food and Drug Administration.
- Salmonellosis - Fact sheet from the NY Department of Health
- Protect Yourself From Salmonella - Guide from Duke Medicine for preventing illness due to salmonella.
- Salmonellosis in Arizona - Statistics on outbreaks of salmonellosis in AZ, including causes of the outbreaks.
- What is the Difference Between Salmonella and E. Coli? - Explains the differences between the two bacteria.
Botulism is a rare food borne illness. It is caused by a toxin released by bacteria; the bacteria that causes botulism is found in foods that were canned improperly or in fermented seafood. Symptoms of the infection include blurred or double vision, breathing difficulty, and paralysis. An anti-toxin may be injected into a person with botulism to prevent further damage to the nerves. If the person still has food contained with the toxin in their system, vomiting may be induced to flush out the food. People can prevent the disease by heating or boiling any foods that they are suspicious of. High heat kills the bacteria and its toxins.
- Botulism Fact Sheet - Basic information on botulism from Colorado State University.
- World Health Organization: Botulism - Description of symptoms, prevention and treatment from the World Health Organization.
- Botulism Causes - Description of causes of botulism. Includes a description of the causes of food-borne, infant and wound botulism, from the Mayo Clinic.
- Preventing Foodborne Illness: Clostridium botulinum - Thorough description of botulism from the University of Florida.
- Botulism and Food Poisoning in Home Canning - Article on botulism with a focus on canning foods at home.
There are many types of E. coli bacteria. Some types, such as E. coli O157:H7, cause illness, while others live in the human body and do not cause harm. A common symptom of an infection is diarrhea. Severe infections can lead to death. The best way to prevent an infection is to cook foods properly and to avoid drinking water from an unclean source.
- Escherichia coli O157:H7 - Description of the symptoms and spread of E. Coli O157:H7, one of the most common strains of the bacteria to cause illness.
- E. Coli Infection: Treatment - Describes the treatment of E. Coli.
- Safety Concerns Sprout Up - News article about the spread of E. coli from raw sprouts.
- Food Safety, Preparation and Storage Tips: E. Coli - Advice on handling food to prevent the spread of E. Coli.
- USDA Takes New Steps to Fight E. Coli, Protect the Food Supply - News release about the steps the USDA is taking to protect the US food supply from bacteria.
Listeria is another illness caused by eating food contaminated by bacteria. The illness is particularly risky for women who are pregnant and for older people and people with weak immune systems. Fever is a common symptom of the infection, as are headaches and a stiff neck. Pregnant women may miscarry or go into labor prematurely. Unlike some bacteria, Listeria can grow and thrive in a cool environment, like the refrigerator. To prevent the illness, people should clean any spills in their refrigerator immediately, using hot water and soap. They should also thoroughly clean any raw produce before eating it and cook meats all the way through.
- Listeria and Pregnancy - Information on Listeria and the dangers during pregnancy.
- Listeria Outbreak: How Do I Know If I Have It? - Article from the LA Times about the 2011 Listeria outbreak. Includes information on symptoms and how long it takes symptoms to appear.
- Listeria - Overview on Listeria from the Centers for Disease Control.
- Listeria Infections - Information for parents on Listeria from Kids Health. Includes information on prevention and treatment.
“Mad Cow” Disease
“Mad Cow” disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is not caused by a bacteria or virus, but by a prion, or a type of protein. It affects cattle. It is thought that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a disease that affects humans, is related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Both diseases are very rare. Only three cases of BSE have been identified in the US. All of the cases were in cows that did not enter the food supply.
- Making Sense of Mad Cow Disease - In-depth questions and answers about the disease from the University of Maryland Medical Center.
- BSE Information Slide Show - Question and answer slide show about mad cow disease from the University of Illinois.
- About BSE and CJD - Information on mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Or Mad Cow Disease - Consumer information about mad cow disease.
Norovirus is one of the leading causes of food poisoning in the US. It causes acute gastroenteritis and symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea in people. The virus is spread through food and water. People can also be exposed by touching a surface that is contaminated. Aside from drinking plenty of fluids and rest, there is no treatment for the illness. People can try to prevent it by washing their hands regularly and by washing any surfaces.
- Contagious Norovirus is Everywhere Now - News story from the “USA Today” on the prevalence of norovirus.
- Norovirus Infection - Information on the virus. Also includes a comparison between norovirus and influenza.
- Norovirus - Overview of norovirus from the UK Health Protection Agency.
- Symptoms of Norovirus - Description of the symptoms of norovirus from the UK National Health System.
- Noroviruses Fact Sheet - Q&A fact sheet on norovirus from the Public Health Agency Canada.
Staph infections are usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria. There are more than 30 different types of staph bacteria.. Many people have the bacteria on their body naturally. When the infection is linked to food poisoning, people usually experience stomach problems including vomiting and cramps. An infection is usually treated with antibiotics. One strain of the bacteria, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, does not respond to the standard antibiotics used to treat the infection.
- Staphylococcal Infections - General information on staph infections from the National Institutes of Health.
- What is a Staph Infection? - Description of a staph infection, including the symptoms and causes.
- MRSA - Information on MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, from the NY Times.
- MRSA Toolkit - Video, pamphlets, and fact sheets about MRSA from the TN Department of Health.
The bacteria campylobactor causes the illness campylobacteriosis. People usually get the illness after eating poultry that has not been cooked properly or by eating food that has been contaminated by the juice of raw poultry. Symptoms of the illness include a fever, pain and cramps in the abdomen and diarrhea. Antibiotics may be prescribed, but most people recover without medication or treatment. Hand washing, cooking chicken and other poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and not drinking raw milk are ways to prevent the illness.