by Sue-Allen Kingsley

Food poisoning

A regular occurrence that is both dangerous and deadly

A regular occurrence that is both dangerous and deadly
Food poisoning

Food poisoning is a dangerous and deadly occurance, which seems to be on the increase. Recently, a 7-year-old girl died at an Ekurhuleni boarding school, while 26 boarders became ill in a suspected food poisoning outbreak.

Food poisoning often hits the news when it affects large groups of people, such as wedding guests, people on cruise liners or people who get ill after eating at the same restaurants. What we do not see is the amount of individual cases reported.

Contaminated food can poison your whole system for days. The experience is of such a kind that many people will avoid the particular foodstuff in question for the rest of their lives.

Certain foodstuffs always get the blame for food-poisoning incidents, such as seafood or chicken. But there are many other possible culprits, such as vegetables, reheated buffet foods, rice and eggs, which might have poisoned you.

It's not always easy to find out what exactly caused your illness. It's always a good idea to check with others who ate the same foods, and identify the culprit by seeing which other people also became ill.

Below is a list of the micro-organisms most commonly associated with foodborne illness and examples of foods that are typical vehicles for those illnesses:


Bacteria 

Bacillus cereus: Reheated cooked rice, cooked meats, starchy puddings, vegetables and fish. Improper handling after cooking is a common feature of foods causing Bacillus cereus associated foodborne illness.

Clostridium perfringens: Reheated foods including buffet dishes, cooked meat and poultry, beans, gravy, stews and soups.

Clostridium botulinum: Improperly canned (home-preserved) foods such as vegetables, fish, meat and poultry.

E.coli: Salads and raw vegetables, undercooked meat, cheese, unpasteurised milk.

Campylobacter jejuni: Raw milk, poultry.

Listeria monocytogenes: Unpasteurised milk and milk products such as soft cheeses, raw meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, paté, smoked meat and fish, coleslaw.

Salmonella: Undercooked poultry, meat, shellfish, salads, eggs and dairy products.

Staphylococcus aureus: Ham, poultry, eggs, ice-cream, cheese, salads, custard and cream-filled pastries and gravies, are the most common sources. Improper handling of food or poor hygiene could help S.aureus spread into food.


Parasites

Trichinella spiralis: Undercooked pork or game.

Toxoplasma gondii: Undercooked meat and poultry and raw milk.

 

Viruses

Hepatitis A: Shellfish, raw fruits and vegetables can be the uncommon cause of hepatitis A. Hepatitis A can be spread by contaminated food handlers inadvertently transferring the virus to the food they handle.

 

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