April 2, 2020

Wash Your Hands to Prevent Food Poisoning and Coronavirus

Coronavirus is the big news these days: the virus is circling the globe, infecting thousands of people and may expand to pandemic proportions. Experts are giving great advice on how to avoid the virus. So what does that have to do with a site that focuses on food poisoning? There is one thing that prevention of coronavirus and food poisoning have in common: Wash your hands! There is no vaccine to prevent a COVID-19 infection. And there are no vaccines to prevent infection from Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus. The best advice from experts is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently to prevent transfer of viruses and bacteria to others. So do you know how to wash your hands properly? Here's the gist: Wet your hands under … [Read more...]

Who Is Most at Risk For Complications from Food Poisoning?

With all of the recalls, warnings, studies, and outbreak notices we publish, we hope that people who are in populations most at risk for food poisoning and their families are paying attention. But who is most at risk for complications from food poisoning? There are certain populations who have more of a chance of becoming seriously ill if they contract food poisoning infections. Those people, and their families, need to be extra careful to make sure the food they eat is safe and free from contamination. They include the elderly (over age 65), the very young (under the age of 5), pregnant women, people with chronic health problems such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, and those with chronic suppressed immune systems. Families of these groups need to be especially careful to … [Read more...]

How to Report a Problem With Food to the FDA and USDA

Most Americans have had food poisoning at one time or another, giving that 48,000,000 Americans contract this form of illness every year. Most people think they have the "stomach flu" or a "24 hour bug" when they actually have food poisoning. How do you report a problem with food? What do you do if you think you have food poisoning? First, know the symptoms of food poisoning for various pathogens: E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella. You can report your illness to the government if you think that a problem with food (such as the Northfork Bison E. coli outbreak) purchased from a store is the problem. First, call your doctor to get necessary treatment. Many foodborne illnesses can have long term health complications and this should be noted on your medical … [Read more...]

What Are the Common Symptoms of Food Poisoning?

Given that 48,000,000 Americans are sickened with food poisoning every year in this country, every American has most likely had food poisoning. But many people confuse the symptoms of these illnesses with the "24 hour flu" or "stomach flu." As a result, some patients could be undiagnosed and untreated, and develop the long term consequences of these illnesses without even knowing they had been sickened by these pathogens. What are the symptoms of food poisoning? At this time, there are five ongoing multistate food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S. An E. coli O103 outbreak is linked to ground beef, a Salmonella Carrau outbreak is linked to precut melons, a deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak is linked to deli meats and cheeses, and a Salmonella Newport outbreak is linked to raw … [Read more...]

Did the Last Thing You Ate Give You Food Poisoning?

Whenever anyone gets sick with a foodborne illness, the question is what food made them sick. Did the last thing you ate give you food poisoning? The answer, surprisingly, is probably not. Bacteria that cause food poisoning have incubation periods. During that time, the bacteria grows and some produce toxins and your immune system starts to respond. The response is what causes the symptoms. It can take some time for the symptoms of food poisoning to develop, depending on the pathogen. These incubation times are one reason why tracking the source of a food poisoning outbreak can be so difficult. First, investigators must interview patients and ask them what they ate in the past week. And second, it's difficult for patients to remember what they ate in the past week. These are … [Read more...]

What Are the Long Term Consequences of Food Poisoning?

Since 48,000,000 Americans are sickened with food poisoning every year, it's a safe bet to say that every American has had food poisoning at least once during their life. We are all aware of the symptoms of these illnesses, from E. coli O157:H7 to Salmonella to Listeria monocytogenes. But when you recover, should you still be concerned? Yes. All of these illnesses can lead to long term consequences. And each pathogen has its own set of health issues that can arise weeks, months, or years after recovery. That's why it's a good idea to have these illnesses recorded on your medical chart. E. coli O157:H7 This pathogen can cause the most serious illness. If a person contracts this infection, they may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. Shiga … [Read more...]

El Rey Del Taco Bistek Tacos Associated with Outbreak

According to news reports and the Cameron County Health Department, a food poisoning outbreak at El Rey del Taco in Brownsville, Texas has been associated with Bistek tacos. Those are tacos made with onions, flank steak, and green chile. At least 33 people were sickened in this outbreak. Public health officials have not named the pathogen responsible for these illnesses, but did says that the illnesses were caused by "microbial toxins." Bacteria that produce toxins that make people sick within a short amount of time include Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. Both of these pathogens produce toxins when they are present in large quantities of food, particularly meat and gravy, that is not properly cooled or not properly reheated. Most of the outbreaks caused by those two … [Read more...]

Essex County NJ Detention Facility Serving Unsafe Food

The Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security has found that New Jersey's Essex County Correctional Facility has "unsanitary and unsafe conditions." This place holds 800 immigrants. The IG has released a report on conditions at that facility. Inspectors found "foul smelling and unrecognizable" hamburger patties, blood from raw chicken leaking in the refrigerator, and moldy bread set aside to make bread pudding in the kitchen. Lunch meat was "slimy and foul-smelling," and appeared to be spoiled. Detainees said they have been suffering from food poisoning and stomach infections. Those problems can cause food poisoning from Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Cross-contamination from raw chicken juices onto foods eaten uncooked can cause … [Read more...]

Bacterial Outbreak Associated With Xi’an Noodles in Seattle Sickens Three

Three people are sick after a bacterial toxin is associated with Xi'an Noodles restaurant in Seattle, Washington. None of the patients have been hospitalized. The people ate at that restaurant on December 21, 2018. King County Public Health is investigating this outbreak. The symptoms patients experienced include abdominal cramps and diarrhea. All three patients were from a single meal party. The press release states that symptoms and timing suggest that a bacterial toxin is responsible for the illnesses, such as Clostridium perfringens or Bacillus cereus. The exact food or beverage served at Xi'an Noodles that caused the illness has not yet been identified. Environmental Health investigators were at the restaurant on December 31, 2018. Earlier food safety inspections and the … [Read more...]

Potatoes and Food Poisoning Outbreaks: Botulism and Listeria Monocytogenes

Potatoes aren't often thought of when people think about food poisoning. This root vegetable is, after all, always cooked before it's eaten, which would kill off any pathogenic bacteria. But this vegetable grows in soil and can be contaminated at any point along the supply chain. But there have been some outbreaks linked to potatoes. Clostridium botulinum outbreaks have been linked to baked potatoes that are wrapped in aluminum foil. The spores that produce this deadly toxin are found in the soil, and they can contaminate the spuds. The spores can sometimes survive the baking process. If the potatoes are baked while tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, that creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment. And that creates the perfect conditions for botulism spores to germinate, grow, … [Read more...]

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