As a food consumer, there are many methods to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. You may diligently use your meat thermometer, keep raw and cooked meats separate, wash your hands and countertops, and follow all the other tips from trusted experts, but for a variety of reasons, pathogens may still find their way into your food, causing illness.
An estimated million people — almost 1 in 10 worldwide — get sick and , die from consuming contaminated food or water each year. In the U. There are 31 notable foodborne bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, and chemicals that cause food and water contamination globally. Improved food safety and technology has played a significant role in helping to mitigate their impact; however, outbreaks still exist. The following ten pathogens often cause foodborne illnesses. A bacterium causing diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.
In some cases, diarrhea may be bloody and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Raw and undercooked poultry and other meats and fish, unpasteurized dairy products, and contaminated water. This organism produces a toxin that is among the deadliest known to humans, causing blurred vision, double vision, drooping eyelids and difficulty breathing. Modern food processing has lowered its incidence tremendously.
Still, because of its environmental presence and resilience, vigilance against its growth and contamination in food is paramount. For infants, children, and adults, improperly home-canned or preserved foods, including low-acid vegetables and fermented fish, improperly canned commercial foods, and herb-infused oils. A single-cell parasite common in the tropics that causes watery diarrhea with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements, weight loss, nausea, abdominal cramps, and fatigue.
Fresh produce harvested from tropical regions such as raspberries, basil, cilantro, snow peas, and certain varieties of lettuce. A diverse group of bacteria that causes severe diarrhea that is often bloody, abdominal pain, severe stomach pain, and vomiting. Particular serotypes, such as E. Raw or undercooked ground beef, raw fruits and vegetables including lettuce, spinach, and sprouts, unpasteurized juices or dairy products, contaminated water.
A bacterium causing fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues.
In more severe cases, it can cause headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches. Pregnant women are more susceptible to infection from listeria, potentially resulting in miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and infection of the newborn. You may feel the affects of food poisoning right after eating a contaminated food or you may not feel sick until a few days or a month later.
F oodborne illnesses, however, can be very serious and even fatal. Some people are more likely to become seriously ill than others. These include infants and young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems, such as those with cancer, liver disease and AIDS. In some cases, foodborne illness can cause long term problems such as kidney damage, arthritis or heart problems. Scientists have identified hundreds of different foodborne illnesses.
Some are rare, while others are much more common. The following five bacteria are common causes of food poisoning.
Click on the links below to learn more about the common food sources, symptoms and prevention of each of these:. Campylobacter jejuni. Raw poultry, unpasteurized raw milk and untreated water. Note: dogs, cats and farm animals can also carry this bacteria. Fever, headache and muscle pain, followed by diarrhea often bloody , stomach pain, cramps, nausea and vomiting. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods. Cook foods to a safe internal temperature.
Drink only pasteurized milk and use a safe water supply. Clostridium botulinum. Improperly prepared home-canned, low-acid foods e. Honey may also be contaminated with C. Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, headache, double vision, and dryness in the throat and nose. In some cases, these may lead to respiratory failure, paralysis and even death. Never eat food from cans that are dented, leaking or bulging.
Be sure to follow proper canning processes when canning foods at home. Do not feed honey to children under one year. Globally, almost 1 in 10 people are estimated to fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and die as a result, according to the World Health Organization. Preventing foodborne illness in the United States is the job of the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which oversees the meat, poultry and processed egg supply, and the US Food and Drug Administration, responsible for domestic and imported foods.
With frequent news of outbreaks, which are investigated by the CDC, many people might wonder whether foodborne illness is on the rise -- and whether safety measures across the nation adequately protect our food supply. Matthew Wise, deputy branch chief for outbreak response at the CDC, said the agency usually gets "about illness clusters" to evaluate each year.
Wise described these clusters as "potential outbreaks.
An outbreak investigation includes collecting evidence, confirming an illness-causing pathogen and tracing contacts; most of this work is performed by state health departments, though it is coordinated by the CDC. Only about 15 of the illness clusters investigated each year turn out to be actual outbreaks. As of Thursday, the CDC has declared 13 multistate outbreaks so far this year.
Salmonella Fast Facts. Preliminary data from the most recent CDC FoodNet report -- which documents trends in foodborne illness outbreaks -- hints that some forms may be on the rise: "The overall number of Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia infections diagnosed Catherine Donnelly, a professor of food science at the University of Vermont, said this increase may be partly due to improved tools both for detecting contamination in food and for outbreak surveillance, reporting and investigation.
As a result, we see more reports of foodborne illness," Donnelly wrote in an email. Her view is widely shared; Taylor agrees but said the question of whether foodborne illness is increasing is a "complicated" one. OH7, a particularly harsh strain of E.
Still, reductions in salmonella, listeria and other key pathogens have not occurred, he said. Listeria Fast Facts.
Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days. If you have low immunity and you think you have an illness caused by something you've eaten, contact your doctor right away. To ensure that your hands and surfaces are clean, be sure to:. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Learn more about specific foodborne illness organisms, including how they are spread, their symptoms, and their treatment:.
Reported outbreaks may have fewer cases today than in the past, Taylor said. The ability to detect outbreaks more rapidly, due to whole genome sequencing, also means the CDC can follow through and contain an outbreak more swiftly. Donnelly notes that the proportion of Americans considered to be at risk for foodborne illness is also increasing -- yet many people do not know or understand that they might be at risk, she said.
Outbreaks are also influenced by seasonal and environmental factors, she said. Flooding from storms has been associated with fresh produce outbreaks, while Vibrio illness linked to eating oysters may occur as a result of rising ocean temperatures.
The bottom line, Taylor said: "We have too much foodborne illness. It's largely preventable. There's a lot that has been done to reduce risk, and there's a lot more that can be done. All of safety, though, begins with an understanding of our food system.