Food Borne Illnesses

What is a Food borne Illness?

Food borne illness is an infection or irritation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by food or beverages that contain harmful bacteria, parasites, fungi, or viruses.

  • Food borne illnesses are linked to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people annually.
  • Mostly children – and most of these illnesses, including food borne illness, are attributed to contaminated food or water

How do food borne bacteria grow?

  • Food borne bacteria are often naturally present in food, and in the right conditions, a single bacterium can grow into more than two million bacteria in just seven hours.
  • These bacteria multiply rapidly on foods with lots of protein or carbohydrates when the food temperature is between 5 °C to 60 °C which is often known as the ‘food danger zone’.

Which food is preferred by food borne bacteria?

Bacteria grow and multiply on some types of food more easily than on others. The types of foods which bacteria prefer include:

  • Meat.
  • Dairy products.
  • Eggs.
  • Seafood.
  • Cooked rice.
  • Prepared fruit.
  • Salads.

Who are at risk?

Some people are at a higher risk for developing food borne illness. These include:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Young children.
  • Older adults.
  • People with weakened immune systems.

Food borne illness outbreak

The occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from eating a common food.

Food Borne Illness Outbreak in USA 2009 to 2015

1. Botulism

  • Scientific name:- Clostridium botulinum
  • Source:- Found in improperly canned foods. Also in sliced meats, and some seafood.
  • Symptoms usually start 4-36 hours after eating and include double vision, difficulty swallowing, progressive paralysis of respiratory system.

Why babies really shouldn’t eat honey?

Honey has the possibility of containing Clostridium Botulinum bacteria that has the possibility of producing Botulinum toxin, causing infant botulism.


  • Ensure that all foods are properly canned and time temperature guidelines are followed.
  • Do not buy dented or damaged cans -Dents can hide little holes in the cans, which allow Clostridium botulinum bacteria to thrive.
  • This contaminate requires medical help immediately – Botulism can be fatal.

2. Campylobacteriosis

  • Scientific name:- Campylobacter jejuni
  • Sources:- Raw poultry, meat, and unpasteurized milk as well as this bacteria is found on poultry, cattle and sheep and can contaminate the meat and milk of these animals.
  • Symptoms usually start 2-5 days after eating.
  • Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever and sometimes bloody stools. Can last up to 10 days.


Cook meats to appropriate internal temperatures

  • Ground Meats (Beef, Pork, Lamb) – 155°F
  • Whole cuts of Beef, Pork, Lamb,- 145°F
  • All Poultry (whole or ground) – 165°F
  • Reheating leftovers – 165°F

3. Listeriosis

  • Scientific name:- Listeria monocytogenes
  • Sources:- Found in soft cheese, unpasteurized milk and shell fish.
  • Resistant to heat.
  • Symptoms are reported 48-72 hours after eating.
  • Contaminated foods can cause fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.
  • Can cause infant death.


  • Wash your hands after using the restroom.
  • Do not drink unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash vegetables or fruits thoroughly.
  • Wash your hands after handling raw meat, seafood or poultry.
  • Make sure all meat, poultry and fish products are well cooked.
  • Re-heat leftover foods thoroughly.

4. Salmonellosis

  • Scientific name:- Salmonella typhi
  • Sources:- raw meats, poultry, milk, raw eggs and other dairy products.
  • Symptoms start 8-12 hours after eating and include abdominal pain, diarrhea and sometimes nausea and vomiting.


  • Cook poultry products to proper internal temperature.
  • Avoid eating raw eggs.
  • Don’t drink unpasteurized milk.
  • Thoroughly cook ground meat.
  • Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash hands carefully.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially those that will not be cooked.

5. Hepatitis A

  • Scientific name:- Hepatitis A virus
  • Sources:- Oral fecal contact – when hands are not washed thoroughly after using the restroom and from shell fish in polluted water.
  • Symptoms begin with appetite loss, nausea, vomiting and fever. After 3-10 days patients can develop jaundice and can lead to liver damage.

6. Staphylococcal Food Poisoning

  • Scientific name:- Staphylococcus aureus
  • Sources:- Salads such as ham, tuna, egg, chicken, potato and macaroni as well as sandwiches, contaminated milk, cheese and bakery products such as cream-filled pastries.
  • Incubation period 2-8 hours.
  • Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach cramp and diarrhea sometimes headache and fever.


  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Do not prepare or serve food if you have wounds or skin infections on your hands or wrists.
  • Keep food out of the danger zone by cooling foods immediately or serving food immediately.

Food borne illnesses Common prevention tips

  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds.
  • If your hands have any kind of skin abrasion or infection, always use clean disposable gloves.
  • Thoroughly wash with hot, soapy water all surfaces that come in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, and eggs before moving on to the next step in food preparation. Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces.
  • To keep cutting boards clean, wash them in hot, soapy water after each use; then rinse and air or pat dry with clean paper towels.
  • Don’t use the same platter and utensils that held the raw product to serve the cooked product. Any bacteria present in the raw meat or juices can contaminate the safely cooked product. Serve cooked products on clean plates, using clean utensils and clean hands.
  • Keep pets, household cleaners, and other chemicals away from food and surfaces used for food.
  • Good personal hygiene practices.
  • Safe food preparation methods.
  • Maintain proper kitchen hygiene practices.
  • Maintain the food storage according to hygienic procedures.


30/04/2020 by @cheflakey

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