Dangerous foodborne pathogens are the #1 cause of food poisoning. Most of us try to take precautions when cooking, storing, and handling our food, but common food safety mistakes tend to happen here and there.
And when they do, foodborne pathogens like E. coli, listeria, and salmonella rejoice at the opportunity to infect your food.
Millions of people fall victim to “stomach bugs” aka foodborne illness each year. At the end of 2019, 167 people across 27 states were infected by an E. coli outbreak that was spread through romaine lettuce grown on an Arizona farm.
In fact, over 400 people were sickened by salmonella-infected red onions from a food manufacturing facility in California just last week.
NO FOOD IS SAFE FROM FOODBORNE PATHOGENS
No matter the fruit, produce, or meat, no food is safe from the risk of contamination. You’re just as likely to get sick from eating cooked food just as much as raw food. From salads and cantaloupes to ground beef and eggs, when any type of food isn’t handled properly, there’s always a chance for infection.
SIGNS OF FOODBORNE ILLNESS
Most foodborne pathogens cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea, bloody stool, diarrhea, and vomiting. While a lot of these bacterial infections have the same symptoms, go to the doctor as soon as you suspect you’re suffering from a foodborne-related illness to determine which one it could be.
If you start to feel dizzy, queasy, or experience chills after eating something, head straight to the hospital ASAP.
HOW FOODBORNE PATHOGENS CAUSE ILLNESS
Foodborne pathogens often spread due to carelessness in preparing or storing foods.
Some ways you can become infected include eating food that:
- Is spoiled or expired
- Was stored at the incorrect temperature
- Wasn’t thoroughly washed or cleaned
- Was prepared on a contaminated surface
- Was not cooked to the proper temperature
- Contained fecal matter
These are just a few examples of how these dangerous germs spread. Check out our handy food safety tips guide to learn how you can avoid the mistakes listed above.
TOP FOODBORNE PATHOGENS
Here are the top 7 foodborne pathogens that you need to know about.
Listeria outbreaks frequently make headlines. This bacteria is known to invade produce or food manufacturing facilities.
Caused by the bacteria listeria monocytogenes, listeria usually causes mild to moderate symptoms including a fever, muscle aches, nausea, and/or diarrhea.
Occasionally, the bacterial infection spreads to the nervous system where it causes even more serious complications.
Bloody diarrhea, painful stomach cramps, and high fevers are clear indicators that you’ve been infected by campylobacter.
Nausea and vomiting occur in severe cases. People with compromised immune systems can have life-threatening complications.
When you’ve been infected with salmonella, you’ll know it. Diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps are common signs of this foodborne pathogen. There are several strands of salmonella that you need to watch out for.
4. VIBRIO CHOLERAE
Vibrio cholerae, which typically spreads through water, generally affects a person with mild diarrhea and vomiting.
However, a known complication that develops with vibrio cholerae is extreme dehydration. This infection could lead to leg spasms, shock, and death in extreme cases.
Closely related to E. Coli, a Shigella bacterial infection causes uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues. Diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, and feeling the urge to defecate frequently are common symptoms.
As with most foodborne pathogens, stomach problems point to signs that you could have a norovirus infection.
Diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and general nausea are typically red flags. Norovirus infections tend to be very common on cruise ships.
This is because many people share the same surfaces and have poor hand hygiene.
7. E. COLI
Escherichia coli, aka E.Coli, like its predecessors, causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Fortunately, most cases clear up on their own in 5-7 days. But sometimes symptoms worsen and persist, requiring hospitalization.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT DISINFECTANT TO ERADICATE FOODBORNE PATHOGENS
We all expect to become sick at some point, but not from the food we love to eat! Given how much we’ve had to give up in 2020 so far, the last thing you want to add to the list is tasty, delectable dishes and meals that you enjoy.
To keep these 7 pesky foodborne pathogens from ruining your gastrointestinal tract and sending you straight the bathroom, there are only a few preventative steps you need to take. It all boils down to using the right cleaning product to remove these germs from surfaces, equipment, and utensils.
An EPA disinfectant with the pathogens listed above on its kill claim is your best protection against bacteria and viruses that cause food poisoning. But before you just up and buy a product, you’ll need to ask these crucial questions to make sure you’re choosing the right one.
HOW TO KILL FOODBORNE PATHOGENS
Here’s how to destroy foodborne pathogens that cause foodborne illness in 3 easy steps.
1. Clean the surface with a general cleaning wipe or damp paper towel or cloth.
2. Wipe the surface with a disinfectant wipe EPA registered to kill foodborne pathogens.
3. Allow the surface to remain wet for the recommended dwell time.
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