Foodborne illnesses affect more than 1.3 million people per year in the US alone. Bacterial organisms and their toxins affect food during growth, harvest, and processing. This often happens due to cross-contamination, which is the handling of food by infected individuals anywhere in the supply chain. Most symptoms of food poisoning are similar in nature and include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. These are the five most common bacteria related to food poisoning.
The bacteria Campylobacter normally lives in the intestines of animals, primarily chicken, turkey and some shellfish. It can live in water if contaminated via feces. Do not spread bacteria by pre-washing your chicken; it is ineffective when eating undercooked poultry. A Campylobacter infection can last two to 10 days, but it will clear up; just keep hydrated and balance your electrolytes.
4. E. coli
There are many bacteria that are normal in the gut, and E. coli is an inhabitant in the intestines of humans and animals. But in large amounts and certain strains, it can cause illness. These specific strains come from contaminated food like beef, sprouts, and apple cider. You may have symptoms on the same day or up to 10 days after eating affected food. Recovery is usually in five to seven days; if you have any kidney issues, be careful, as it could lead to kidney failure. Cook meat thoroughly and wash your veggies before consuming them, as E. coli has recently been found in prepackaged greens like spinach and kale.
Salmonella is found in both humans and animals. It is usually found in eggs, raw vegetables, fruits, and ground beef. Infection can last one week. It spreads via the use of infected knives, cutting boards, or infected handlers. Always wash your veggies and fruit to prevent Salmonella infection.
A common bacterium, Listeria lives in soil, water, and feces. It can be found in contaminated soft cheese such as brie or queso fresco, deli meat, and hot dogs, as well as fruit and veggies. This bacterium will clear out in a few days for most everyone. However, if you are pregnant, there is an additional risk of miscarriage or developmental delay.
This is actually a virus rather than a bacterium. Norovirus is becoming very common, and is normally found in shellfish and ready to eat foods. It spreads easily in large groups, like cruise ships, schools and cafeterias.
Most cases of norovirus food poisoning are mild and should clear up with regular hydration and fluids. Generally, antibiotics are not prescribed unless you are unable to fight off your symptoms. If it has not cleared up in five to seven days or your symptoms are worsening, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Preventing Food Poisoning
To prevent food poisoning, wash off all vegetables and fruits before consuming them. Cook all meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly. Keep your kitchen utensils, surfaces, and equipment clean. Refrigerate or freeze foods promptly, and defrost safely.
Dehydration is a problem for the very young, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. If they are still sick or have a fever after three days, call the doctor. To decrease your symptoms or amount of sick time, stay hydrated with water, tea, or electrolyte balanced drinks like Pedialyte or Gatorade.Related: 8 Foods That, If Eaten Raw, Could Make You Sick