Anybody who’s ever experienced food poisoning knows that it’s serious business. Typically, people can become violently ill, potentially to the point of being hospitalized. Some strands of relentless food poisoning can even be deadly, especially for younger children and the elderly. It’s important to learn the types of foods and bacterias that can potentially cause this kind of sickness, so we can do our best to avoid it. We all know that it’s a bad idea to consume raw eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, unclean greens and questionable (lukewarm or old) meat… but what germs in particular take over our systems and make us so sick?
One of the most common types of germs that causes food poisoning is salmonella. Salmonella is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacilli, or group of bacteria, that can cause severe gastrointestinal illness in humans. The Salmonella family includes over 2,000 serotypes of bacteria which are tiny, one-celled organisms. These bacteria live in the gut of infected humans and animals. Contamination usually occurs when humans come into contact with the bacteria during the slaughtering process, or when eggs are laid by an infected chicken. For that reason, meat, chicken and eggs are the greatest offenders when it comes to salmonella poisoning. Otherwise, contamination can come from the bellies of reptiles, unclean surfaces in kitchens, and fruits and vegetables that have been washed in dirty water.
It’s probably a word you’ve heard before in passing: e.coli. You’ve heard it used in reference to food poisoning, more than likely. E.coli, otherwise known as Escherichia coli, is a bacteria that lives in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. Despite common misconception, most e.coli is actually harmless. However, there are some strands of the bacteria that can cause major gastrointestinal issues, anemia, infections and kidney failure. Typically, people are contaminated when they come into contact with the feces of humans or animals, or, by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. Similar to the spreading of salmonella, e.coli can spread easily during meat processing, and then can be released if the meat isn’t cooked thoroughly. Raw milk, other dairy and veggies are also a common contributor for this bacterial food illness.
This bacteria in particular is found in soil, water, and some animals, like poultry and cattle. It’s, perhaps, one of the greatest dangers that consumers of raw, unpasteurized milk, as it commonly lives in raw milk. Listeria, unlike many of the other germs that cause food illnesses, stays alive and well in the cold temperatures of the refrigerator. The only way to kill listeria is to cook it and pasteurize it. Look out for listeria in raw milk or dairy products, deli meats and hot dogs, soft cheeses, and certain seafoods.
These germs are miserable, dangerous, and even deadly. Do everything that you can to avoid them in order to keep your body healthy and free of sickness!
Have you had food poisoning in the past?