The Top Most Common Foodborne Diseases and How to Avoid Them
Consuming tainted foods or drinks results in foodborne disease. Foods can be contaminated by a wide range of pathogens or disease-causing bacteria, leading to a wide range of foodborne diseases.
The majority of foodborne diseases are bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. Other illnesses are food poisonings brought on by dangerous toxins or chemicals. A lot of foodborne infections can also be acquired from drinking or using recreational water, through contact with animals or their surroundings, or by being passed from person to person.
Foodborne diseases are ailments brought on by consuming contaminated food or water. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other dangerous agents can cause these disorders.
If you consume foods that are contaminated with dangerous pathogens including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, you could develop a foodborne disease. According to the World Health Organisation, each year, 1 in 10 persons globally contract foodborne diseases. This translates to 600 million new cases annually.
A foodborne disease is thought to affect 1 in 6 persons annually in the United States, where the infection prevalence is slightly higher. While some foodborne diseases are minor, others, if untreated, can result in serious health issues or even death.
Any illness caused by pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as prions (the cause of mad cow disease), and toxins like aflatoxins in peanuts, poisonous mushrooms, and different species of uncooked beans, is referred to as foodborne diseases (also foodborne disease and food poisoning).
Food contaminated with germs, viruses, parasites, or other dangerous elements has been linked to at least 200 ailments, according to the World Health Organisation. Food poisoning has an adverse effect on the public healthcare system as well as the economy by preventing travel and trade.
Foodborne diseases are brought on by contamination and can happen at any point throughout the preparation, distribution, and consumption of food. Foodborne illness includes conditions including cancer and diarrhoea. Despite the fact that most have gastrointestinal origins, some can also have brain effects. Diarrhoea caused by food poisoning is a significant public health concern in many low- and middle-income nations.
The top most prevalent foodborne illnesses include:
Salmonella: You can get this bacterial infection via eating tainted meat, poultry, or eggs. Separate raw meat from meals that are ready to eat, cook meat and poultry to the proper temperature, and thoroughly wash your hands and kitchen surfaces to prevent this disease.
Norovirus: This virus can be transferred by contaminated water as well as through food prepared by infected food handlers. It's crucial to maintain proper cleanliness in order to avoid contracting this illness, especially when preparing meals or tending to sick people.
Campylobacter: Unpasteurized milk, tainted water, and raw or undercooked poultry are major sources of this bacterial infection. It's crucial to properly cook meat and poultry, consume only pasteurised milk, and boil water before drinking it in order to prevent this sickness.
E. coli: Along with contaminated produce and dairy products, undercooked beef is frequently linked to this bacterial infection. It's crucial to thoroughly wash produce, prepare meat to the proper temperature, and steer clear of unpasteurized dairy items if you want to prevent this sickness.
Listeria: Soft cheeses, unpasteurized dairy products, and deli meats are frequently contaminated with this bacteria. Avoiding high-risk items like deli meats and soft cheeses, as well as always following proper food handling and storage requirements, are crucial for preventing this condition.
Why do foodborne infections occur?
The majority of foodborne diseases are caused by inappropriate food handling, preparation, or storage. Using good hygiene techniques before, during, and after food preparation can lower your risk of getting sick. The public health community agrees that routine hand washing is one of the best barriers against the spread of foodborne diseases. Food safety is the process of ensuring that food will not result in foodborne diseases. Numerous different environmental toxins can also contribute to foodborne diseases.
Additionally, a variety of chemicals, including pesticides, medications, and naturally toxic substances like vomitoxin, poisonous mushrooms, or reef fish, can result in foodborne diseases.
Any of the following causes can lead to foodborne illnesses:
Bacteria: These may be found in unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated fruits and vegetables, raw and undercooked meat, fish, and poultry, contaminated drinking water, and unpasteurized produce. A common source of foodborne disease is bacteria. The following list of specific microorganisms was provided by the UK in 2000:
Escherichia coli O157:H7 1.4%, Salmonella 20.9%, Campylobacter jejuni 77.3%, and all other pathogens less than 0.56%. Because there were few locations with the ability to test for norovirus and because this particular agent was not actively being monitored, it was once believed that bacterial infections were more common. Because the bacteria need time to multiply, toxins from bacterial infections take longer to manifest. As a result, intoxication-related symptoms typically do not manifest until 12 to 72 hours or later after consuming contaminated food. However, the symptoms of some illnesses, like Staphylococcal food poisoning, may not appear for up to 30 minutes after consuming contaminated food.
Viruses: Food tainted with viral particles is a common way for viruses to enter the body. In wealthy nations, a third or more of food poisoning episodes are likely caused by viral infections. More than 50% of instances of foodborne disease in the US are viral, with noroviruses accounting for 57% of outbreaks in 2004. In wealthy nations, at least one-third of episodes of food poisoning are brought on by viral infections. Within one to three days after consumption, viral foodborne infections start to manifest their effects.
Several well-known foodborne pathogens include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis E
Parasites: Fresh fruit, seafood, meat, poultry, and other foods can become contaminated by parasites that are spread by contaminated water and soil. The majority of parasites found in food are zoonotic, meaning they spread from animals to people. The signs of both bacterial and viral foodborne diseases are essentially the same. Here are a few commonly recognised food parasites:
Prions: These contagious proteins are linked to "mad cow disease" and can be obtained through eating sections of cattle, such as the brain.
Naturally occurring chemicals: Long-term health problems may be brought on by naturally occurring toxins found in mould on grains, staple foods like corn and cereal, and mushrooms. Natural poisons are present in many foods. The majority of harmful substances come from plants rather than animals (the latter being rare). Plants use poisons and unpleasant substances as passive defence, such as the sulphur compounds found in garlic and onions. Other plant-based foods, like mushrooms, have toxicity that usually results in death for both humans and animals. Some plants contain compounds that, when consumed in sufficient quantities, have therapeutic benefits but are toxic in high doses.
- There are cardiac glycosides in foxglove.
- Conium, a poisonous hemlock plant, is used medicinally.
Environmental pollutants: Heavy metals like lead and mercury found in water and soil, byproducts of plastic production and waste management, and contaminated food can all result in foodborne diseases.
Symptoms of Foodborne diseases:
Vomiting and/or diarrhoea are classic signs of a foodborne infection, and they normally persist 1 to 7 days. The list of other symptoms may also include weariness, nausea, fever, and joint or back pain. The "stomach flu" that some people experience may actually be a foodborne illness brought on by a pathogen, such as a virus, bacteria, or parasite, found in tainted food or drink. A few hours to a week can pass during the incubation period, which is the interval between being exposed to the virus and the beginning of symptoms.
Symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause, but frequently include nausea, fever, and pains. Diarrhoea may also be present. Because microbes, such as bacteria (if applicable), can pass through the stomach into the intestine and start to multiply even if infected food was eliminated from the stomach in the first bout of vomiting, bouts of vomiting can be repeated with a long interval between them. Some microbe species remain in the intestine.
Depending on the cause and the amount of ingestion, symptoms for pollutants requiring an incubation time may not appear for hours to days. People who are afflicted by longer incubation periods frequently fail to link their symptoms to the substance they consumed, leading them, for instance, to mistake gastroenteritis for their symptoms.
How are foodborne diseases treated?
Foodborne infections may be treated with a combination of DIY cures, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription drugs. However, the kind of pathogen that causes the foodborne diseases and the intensity of the symptoms will determine the kinds of drugs that medical professionals will recommend. Hospitalisation may be needed in severe situations.
A medical practitioner might advise you:
- If you have diarrhoea or vomiting, increase your fluid intake to stay hydrated.
- If you are feeling exhausted, get more rest.
- If given antibiotics, take them.
- Take the antitoxin as directed
- For some parasitic and toxic conditions, consider surgery
How may foodborne diseases be avoided?
Foodborne diseases prevention is a crucial public health responsibility. To prevent contracting foodborne diseases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published food safety standards.
Washing your hands: Wash your hands often and thoroughly with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw or cooked foods, using the bathroom, handling pets, or tending to anyone who is ill.
Cleaning items well: Clean food surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use. Learn how to clean your wooden cutting board.
Separating foods: Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from cooked and ready-to-eat foods, including fruits and vegetables, to avoid cross contamination.
Cooking food thoroughly: Cook foods to a safe internal temperature to avoid undercooking and reduce foodborne illness risk. Use this detailed cooking temperature list to guide you.
Avoiding raw beverages: Avoid drinking raw and unpasteurized dairy and juice products.
Storing food properly: Keep foods out of the temperature danger zone of 40–140°F (5–60℃) by thawing frozen food safely in the refrigerator and refrigerating foods within 2 hours of cooking.
Isolating when you’re sick: Stay at home if you’re feeling unwell and avoid preparing food for others during this time, even for several days after your symptoms have subsided.
Foods Associated with Foodborne Diseases
The most likely to be contaminated are raw foods of animal origin, specifically raw meat and poultry, raw eggs, unpasteurized milk, and raw shellfish. When manure is used to fertilise products in the field or dirty water is used to wash the produce, fruits and vegetables can also become polluted with animal faeces.
Because they are sprouted in ideal conditions for microbial growth, raw sprouts are particularly unsettling.
If there are germs on the fruit that was used to manufacture the unpasteurized fruit juice or cider, those products may also be affected.
Any food item that has been in contact with a person who is currently experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea or who has recently experienced these symptoms may become contaminated. These foods (such as salads and cut fruit) can spread the illness to other people if they are not later cooked.
Is there a distinction between food poisoning and foodborne illness?
Although the terms "foodborne disease" and "food poisoning" are frequently used interchangeably, they have some subtle differences.
Any sickness brought on by consuming foods or beverages that have been tainted with dangerous pathogens like bacteria, viruses, or fungus or their toxins is referred to as "foodborne illness" under the general heading.
An infection or intoxication may be the cause of a foodborne illness.
If you consume foods that are contaminated with live bacteria or other pathogens, you could get a foodborne infection. These germs may subsequently develop in your digestive system and produce symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and cramping in the abdomen.
On the other hand, consuming foods laced with the poisons that dangerous microorganisms produce can result in intoxication, often known as food poisoning. It is not necessary for the meal to have live germs.
So, one type of foodborne disease is food poisoning.
In general, it's critical to follow safe food handling procedures and maintain proper food hygiene to prevent foodborne diseases. This entails often washing your hands and kitchen surfaces, separating cooked from uncooked food, heating food at the proper temperature, and correctly storing food.
If you consume foods or drinks that are contaminated with dangerous pathogens like bacteria, viruses, or fungi or their toxins, you could develop foodborne diseases. Toxins in food can induce food poisoning, a type of foodborne disease. Consuming raw, undercooked, or contaminated meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, canned products, or drinking water can result in foodborne diseases.
Depending on the type of pathogen and the intensity of the sickness, recovery times might range from a few days to many months. Healthcare experts may use a combination of DIY cures and over-the-counter or prescription drugs to treat certain disorders.
By often washing your hands with warm, soapy water, washing your cutting boards, separating raw foods from cooked foods, and storing food appropriately, you can lower your risk of getting a foodborne disease.