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Bacterial food poisoning

Foodborne illness or food poisoning is caused by consuming food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, toxins, viruses, prions or parasites. Such contamination usually arises from improper handling, preparation or storage of food. Foodborne illness can also be caused by adding pesticides or medicines to food, or by accidentally consuming naturally poisonous substances like poisonous mushrooms or reef fish. Contact between food and pests, especially flies, rodents and cockroaches, is a further cause of contamination of food. more...

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Bacterial food poisoning
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Bardet-Biedl syndrome
Bardet-Biedl syndrome
Bardet-Biedl syndrome
Bardet-Biedl syndrome
Barrett syndrome
Barth syndrome
Basal cell carcinoma
Batten disease
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Becker's nevus
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Behr syndrome
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Bloom syndrome
Blue diaper syndrome
Blue rubber bleb nevus
Body dysmorphic disorder
Bourneville's disease
Bowen's disease
Brachydactyly type a1
Bright's disease
Brittle bone disease
Bronchiolotis obliterans...
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
Brown-Sequard syndrome
Brugada syndrome
Bubonic plague
Budd-Chiari syndrome
Buerger's disease
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Burkitt's lymphoma
Cavernous angioma

Some common diseases are occasionally foodborne mainly through the water vector, even though they are usually transmitted by other routes. These include infections caused by Shigella, Hepatitis A, and the parasites Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum.

The World Health Organization defines it as diseases, usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food. Every person is at risk of foodborne illness.

Good hygiene practices before, during, and after food preparation can reduce the chances of contracting an illness.

Symptoms and mortality

Symptoms typically begin several hours after ingestion and depending on the agent involved, can include one or more of the following: nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headache or tiredness. In most cases the body is able to permanently recover after a short period of acute discomfort and illness. However, foodborne illness can result in permanent health problems or even death, especially in babies, pregnant women (and their fetuses), elderly people, sick people and others with weak immune systems. Similarly, people with liver disease are especially susceptible to infections from Vibrio vulnificus, which can be found in oysters.

Incubation period

The delay between consumption of a contaminated food and appearance of the first symptoms of illness is called the incubation period. This ranges from hours to days (and rarely months or even years), depending on the agent, and on how much was consumed. If symptoms occur within 1-6 hours after eating the food, it suggests that it is caused by a bacterial toxin rather than live bacteria.

During the incubation period, microbes pass through the stomach into the intestine, attach to the cells lining the intestinal walls, and begin to multiply there. Some types of microbes stay in the intestine, some produce a toxin that is absorbed into the bloodstream, and some can directly invade the deeper body tissues. The symptoms produced depend on the type of microbe.

Infectious dose

The infectious dose is the amount of agent that must be consumed to give rise to symptoms of foodborne illness. The infective dose varies according to the agent and consumer's age and health. In the case of Salmonella, as few as 15-20 cells may suffice .

Pathogenic agents

An early theory on the causes of food poisoning involved ptomaines, alkaloids found in decaying animal and vegetable matter. While some poisonous alkaloids are the cause of poisoning, the discovery of bacteria left the ptomaine theory obsolete.


Bacterial infection is the most common cause of food poisoning. In the United Kingdom during 2000 the individual bacteria involved were as follows: Campylobacter jejuni 77.3%, Salmonella 20.9%, Escherichia coli O157:H7 1.4%, and all others less than 0.1% .


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Guess who's coming to dinner? - food poisoning - Brief Article
From Army Reserve Magazine, 6/22/01 by Thad Jones

Unwanted guests could prove hazardous to your health

Imagine, you just finished eating a hot or cold delicious sandwich at a local restaurant, when you suddenly became nauseous. You get up from your table and rush to the restroom. You have a high fever, chills, stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. When you return to your table, you pay your check and leave the restaurant without telling the manager about your sickness. You might have been a victim of the Unwelcome Meal Guest or food poisoning, a bacterial infection.

Food poisoning accounts for more than 90 percent of all food borne sickness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 76 million illnesses caused by food poisoning every year. The most common food-borne infections are Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Botulism, and Trichinosis.

People are the most common carriers of Staphylococcus (Staph). We carry this microorganism around in our nasal passages, throat, hands and skin surfaces.

Salmonella, (Salmo) on the other hand, is associated with poultry, cracked eggs, meats, and diary products.

Botulism (Botch) can be associated with leaking and swollen food containers and is considered more deadly than cyanide.

The last food borne bacteria is called Trichinosis (Trich), which is most commonly associated with pork.

The food server is one of the critical links for making your dining pleasurable as well as safe. Yet, how many times have you seen a food server run a finger or hand through his/her hair? Unsanitary food service is more common than you think. We expect our food handlers to follow guidelines such as wearing the proper clothing or no excessive jewelry while preparing or serving food. Many foreign particles and germs can hide, and hatch eggs in, those rings, watches, bracelets, etc. Those fancy fingernails are also a no-no. Chips from the polish may fall into your food, as might hair if a hairnet is not worn.

Food servers must practice good sanitation when handling food. The hands must be washed thoroughly with hot soapy water after using the restroom, smoking, or after various cooking assignments. The food preparation area should be kept clean and safe. Sponges are notorious breeding grounds for germs; therefore, never use them around food for clean ups.

There are some government and private agencies that are responsible for our food wholesomeness. As consumers, we should not rely too much on those agencies to protect us from the Unwelcome Meal Guest. Despite the best technology and inspection programs, food-borne infection continues to be a major concern. It is an underrated issue because of a widely known concept called the "Iceberg Theory. "This theory states that only 10-percent of all food borne infection is reported. The ninety-percent not reported is directly linked to the consumer. Usually, after we become sick after eating, we shrug it off as a flu bug.

In the end, it is left up to you to fight the Unwelcome Meal Guest. Make sure your foodstuffs are eaten hot or cold according to the instructions. Make sure your servers are wearing a clean uniform. Keep an eye on those long fingernails with polish and excessive jewelry. Become your own inspector. Wash your hands prior to eating. Inspect your food for wholesomeness and acceptability. And finally, if it looks and smells bad, it probably is bad. So don't eat it. Report it to management.

(Chief Warrant Officer Jones is the 300th Area Support Group Food Service Technician, Fort Lee, Va.)

COPYRIGHT 2001 U.S. Army Reserve
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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