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Foodborne Illness: a Serious Threat to Your Digestive Health

Digestive Health > > Foodborne Illness: a Serious Threat to Your Digestive Health

People can become very sick when they eat food contaminated with bacteria or other toxins or pathogens such as parasites and viruses.

Symptoms of foodborne illness can include but are not limited to:

• Diarrhea
• Fever
• Vomiting
• Abdominal crams
• dehydration

Some people only experience an upset stomach with foodborne infections, others suffer more serious consequences.

Foodborne illness is most commonly caused by the consumption of harmful bacteria. Some bacteria is found on food when it is purchased. Raw meat and poultry often become contaminated when animals are slaughtered. Seafood is another food that becomes contaminated with it is harvested or processed. Eggs are a common source of Salmonella that is found inside egg shells.

Even produce can become contaminated with:

• Salmonella
• Shigella
• Escherichia coli (commonly referred to as E. coli)

Sometimes food is contaminated when it is being prepared. Bacteria multiply quickly when cooked food is left out for more than two hours at room temperature.

Who is at Risk for Foodborne Illness?

Everyone is at risk for foodborne illness because every person eats. However, some people are at a higher risk than others. People who have an elevated risk of serious illness due to foodborne illness include the

More serious signs of foodborne illness that require immediate attention from a doctor include:

• weak or rapid pulse
• shallow breathing
• cold, clammy, pale skin
• shaking or chills
• chest pain
• severe dehydration characterized by a dry mouth, sticky saliva, dizziness, fatigue, low blood pressure or an increased heart rate and breathing
• confusion

How are Foodborne Illnesses Treated?

In most cases an increased intake of fluids will help the person suffering from foodborne illness. Depending on the patient’s ability to keep liquids down, fluids might have to be administered intravenously. Patients might need to be hospitalized in order to get the right nutritional and medical therapy. Sometimes doctors will have to take special measures to control blood pressure and evaluate and possibly

Learn to Prevent Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness can usually be avoided by properly cooking and processing food to kill bacteria. Bacteria multiplies when food is kept between 40 and

Always refrigerate foods promptly. Don’t let food stand a room temperature for more than two hours. Make sure your refrigerator is set to cool food at a temperature lower than 40 degrees.

Cook food thoroughly and at the right temperature. Don’t guess, use a meat thermometer to be sure. Proper temperatures are:

145 �F: roasts, steaks, chops of beef, veal, lamb
160�F: pork, ground veal, and ground beef
165�F: ground poultry
180�F: whole poultry

Prevent bacteria from spreading from raw meats by keeping them separate from fresh vegetables and other uncooked foods. Wash cooking utensils thoroughly and be sure to wash your hands after handling raw meats, poultry or seafood.

Scientists are continually studying food safety. For a complete list of proper food handling safety measures, contact your local extension agent or health agency for the most recent advice on preventing foodborne illness.

Digestive Health > > Foodborne Illness: a Serious Threat to Your Digestive Health