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Friday, October 11, 2013

9 foodborne illnesses and what they do to you

9 foodborne illnesses and what they do to you
What are the most common foodborne illnesses?


Botulism is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, a family of bacteria that lives in the soil and in low-oxygen conditions. The bacteria form spores that are dormant until exposed to conditions that support their growth.


Campylobacter is an illness caused by bacteria of the same name (it’s also sometimes called campylobateriosis). The bacteria is found in most of the poultry we eat, as it exists in birds and doesn’t make them sick.

E. coli

These bacteria live in the guts of ruminant animals, most notably cattle, but also deer, elk, goats and sheep. In the slaughtering process the intestines can be cut, allowing the bacteria onto the meat. E. coli usually doesn’t make the host animal sick, but when humans ingest it they’re often in for diarrhea, which can be bloody, stomach cramps, vomiting and sometimes a low fever.


Listeria is found in soil and water and especially in places that have been fertilized with manure. The bacteria is carried by animals it doesn’t harm, and it can contaminate animal products including meat, milk and cheese, as well as vegetables that come into contact with the bacteria.

Infections can be caused by uncooked meats, raw-milk cheeses, vegetables and cold cuts or soft cheeses that may be contaminated at the deli counter after processing.


Noroviruses, commonly called Norwalk-like viruses, are a special kind of foodborne illness caused entirely by humans.

When your food preparer is sick with one of these viruses and goes to the bathroom but doesn’t wash his or her hands after, the illness can be transmitted to you. (You can also get it from touching surfaces with norovirus germs on them, then putting your hands in your mouth, or from direct contact with a person with the illness.)


One of the most famous and common of the foodborne illnesses, salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of animals. When feces comes in contact with food that isn’t cooked, the bacteria can be transmitted to humans.


Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as staph, is a common cause of food poisoning. Staph can linger in foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, meat, egg, pasta and potato salads, sandwich fillings and filled baked goods like eclairs and cream pies.

Staph can grow even in the refrigerator, and infested food won’t have an off odor to let you know you shouldn’t eat it.


Trichinosis, also called trichinellosis, is an infection caused by eating animals infected with the larvae of a worm called trichinella. It can be contracted by eating wild carnivorous animals or domesticated pigs.



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