You’re what you eat – and that stands true more than ever. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 48 million people get sick each year, due to foodborne diseases. Food contamination, WHO recognizes, can happen in one place and affect an individual from another side of the planet.
Food contamination can happen anytime – and the reasons could be anything from the pesticides and chemicals used to grow the plant to the bacteria that enter the food during processing and packaging. At times, it is the result of improper food handling and packaging.
Is Your Food Contaminated?
Contamination is more common in some foods than others – you’re more at risk if you are looking to take red meat, cheese, poultry, shellfish, raw fish, dairy, and eggs.
Are You At Risk?
It could lead to different diseases and is known to be more severe in young children as their immune system is not strong enough.
What Are the Symptoms?
The common symptoms of food poisoning are same as the stomach flu which is diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and fever.
Here is a look at a few other common things that can happen.
1) Food Borne Infection
Foodborne infection happens when you consume food that has two types of bacteria – namely E.Coli or Salmonella.
E.Coli is a group that lives in the intestines and can multiply in the intestines and makes you sick. This bacterium can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and nausea.
Salmonella, for instance, is the major cause of food poisoning in the United States. It can cause excessive abdominal cramps and can also result in food poisoning, and is mainly found in raw meat and undercooked or raw eggs.
In 2009, the peanuts produced by Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely, Georgia contained salmonella bacteria, which caused food poisoning among the people resulting in several deaths.
All the peanuts were called back and Stewart Parnell, heading the company, is facing federal criminal investigation regarding the same.
The symptoms start after 16 to 48 hours, and the infection can last for 2-7 days. Symptoms can be severe on people having a low immune system and can, at times, even result in death.
2) Mercury Poisoning
Many industries, even today, release harmful chemicals in the environment. In the less developed parts of the world, it’s more prominent due to the lack of enforceable rules and regulations.
Mercury is a primary culprit, which enters the rivers and seas and is consumed by the fishes. The fishes are in turn consumed by us.
Most common fishes having mercury are tuna fish, swordfish, and mackerel. Mercury positioning can affect and damage the heart, reproductive system and the nervous system.
3) Pesticide Poisoning
Pesticides are added to fruits and vegetables to protect the crops from all kind of insects and worms. Organophosphate is an acutely toxic pesticide that is used in the United States. People will low immune systems like children and infants can suffer from this disease and also farmers and their families.
These pesticides can cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, weakness, anxiety, and confusion. More severe consequences can be a miscarriage, cancer, skin problems, birth defects and memory disorders.
4) Food Intoxication
Food intoxication occurs not because of the bacteria present in the food but because of the toxins released by those bacteria. It can occur if the bacteria is no longer present in the food but the toxins remain. The two common bacteria which cause food intoxication are Clostridium Botulinum and Staphylococcus Aureus.
Clostridium Botulinum causes an acute food poisoning which is caused in places where there is no oxygen like canned food and low acid vegetables like corn, beets, peas and green beans.
This causes vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea. In most severe cases it can attack the nervous system causing difficulty in swallowing, breathing problems, droopy eyelids, and double vision. If not treated fast it can result in death, but even during treatment, the nervous system is affected. This infection can last from some weeks to months, and the symptoms usually appear after 18 to 36 hours.
Staphylococcus Aureus can multiply when the food is left at a lower temperature than required. It will release toxins which then cannot be removed from the food. It can be easily transferable from a person cooking to a person eating the food.
It can cause skin problems like pimples and boils. The infection lasts up to one day only and symptoms start to appear after one to six hours.
A disease caused by a bacterium called Shigella, it’s the result of unhealthy cooking conditions. The bacteria is primarily transmitted through contaminated food and drinking water.
This intestinal infection has symptoms like cramps, fever, and diarrhea. The symptoms can be seen after 1-2 days and usually subside after 5-7 days.
An illness caused by small parasites called Cryptosporidium, it can be caused by mushrooms, processed fish, and foods that have special seasonings and can affect everyone irrespective of the immune system.
It mainly causes gastrointestinal illness like watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. This infection usually lasts a short term for people having a good immune system and can result in severe infections or even death for people with low immune system.
How Can You Avoid Food Contamination?
While you cannot control the amount of mercury or pesticides in the food, and which can be changed only through a broader understanding of the threat, there are other things that make a difference.
– Keep the area of cooking the food clean and hygienic.
– Wash your hands before cooking and do not cook food if you are suffering from infections like cramps, vomiting, diarrhea or nausea as this can spread the infection to your family members.
– Always buy food like fruits, vegetables meat and poultry from reputable suppliers.
– Clean the food items thoroughly before cooking and store and refrigerate it properly to avoid any kind of contamination.
– If you are reheating the food, cover and heat it preventing any germs or bacteria from entering it.
If you’re going outdoors, you need to know the right survival tips. Safevery.com has got all the resources you need to keep you safe. Prevention is better than cure – you don’t want to risk it with food contamination.