Microbes that cause disease are called
Food-borne illness often shows itself as flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, so many people may not recognize the illness is caused by bacteria or other pathogens on food.
Thousands of types of bacteria are naturally present in our environment. Not all bacteria cause disease in humans. For example, some bacteria are used beneficially in making cheese and yogurt.
Bacteria that cause disease are called “pathogens.” When certain pathogens enter the food supply, they can cause food-borne illness. Only a few types cause millions of cases of food-borne illness each year. Ironically, most cases of food-borne illness can be prevented. Proper cooking or processing of food destroys bacteria. They can grow in just about any food, but are fond of protein foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products in particular, as well as high-protein vegetables such as beans and grains.
1. Bacteria may be present on products when you purchase them. Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs are not sterile. Neither is produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons.
2. Foods, including safely cooked, ready-to-eat foods, can become cross-contaminated with bacteria introduced on raw products, meat juices, or other contaminated products, or by poor personal hygiene.
Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40° and 140° F. To keep food out of this “danger zone, ” keep cold food cold and hot food hot.
- Store food in the refrigerator (40° F or below) or freezer (0° F or below).
- Cook food to 160° F (145° F for roasts, steaks, and chops of beef, veal, and lamb).
- Maintain hot cooked food at 140° F.
- Reheat cooked food to 165° F.
Some bacteria cause more serious illness than others, but only a few are responsible for the majority of cases. Below is information regarding nine prominent bacteria.
Found: intestinal tracts of animals and birds, raw milk, untreated water, and sewage sludge.
Transmission: contaminated water, raw milk, and raw or under-cooked meat, poultry, or shellfish.
Symptoms: fever, headache, and muscle pain followed by diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal pain and nausea that appear 2 to 5 days after eating; may last 7 to 10 days.
Found: widely distributed in nature: in soil and water, on plants, and in intestinal tracts of animals and fish. Grows only in little or no oxygen.
Transmission: bacteria produce a toxin that causes illness. Improperly canned foods, garlic in oil, and vacuum-packaged and tightly wrapped food.