Most Common Cause Of Foodborne Illnesses & How To Prevent It

Foodborne Ilness, Fresh ProduceA recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that the largest cause of foodborne illness comes directly from fresh produce. Allow us to explain why, and how Plantation residents can help protect themselves.

Fresh produce is the healthiest thing you put in your cart at the grocery store, and yet it has the highest risk of making you sick. The study looked at a series of outbreaks that took place between 2004 and 2013, in which fresh produce caused 629 separate outbreaks that impacted 20,000 people.

The CSPI strongly warns against skimping on your fruits and veggies. For one, they are vital to your overall health and wellbeing. Instead there are things you can do to decrease your risk of foodborne illness caused by fresh produce.

What Is Foodborne Illness?

Foodborne illnesses are infections spurred by a harmful bacteria, virus, parasite or chemical that reaches your gastrointestinal tract via something you ate. In rare instances foodborne illnesses cause serious repercussions but in most cases, foodborne illnesses come and go rather quickly, as your body works to remove whatever you ate that made you sick. To put the overall risk into numbers, there are 48 million cases of food poisoning per year, but only 3,000 deaths. 

Those most likely to get severely sick with a foodborne illness include infants and children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Common Types Of Bacteria That Cause Foodborne Illnesses:

  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Vibrio
  • Shigella

Bacteria isn’t the only cause of foodborne illness, other types include:

Viruses: If someone sick prepares your food, you eat shellfish that has been in contaminated water, or if produce was irrigated with contaminated water.

Common foodborne viruses include Norovirus and Hepatitis A. Norovirus results in stomach and intestine inflammation. Hepatitis A results in liver inflammation.

Parasites: This is a very rare infection to get from fresh produce in the US. Most parasites are spread through the ingestion of water or food contaminated with infected animal or human feces.

Common foodborne parasites include Cryptosporidium Parvum and Giardia Intestinalis. There is also another type of parasite known as Trichinella spiralis, a roundworm contracted through eating raw or undercooked wild game or pork.

Chemicals: Chemicals may impact a wide variety of foods from fish to fruits and veggies grown with a lot of heavy pesticides. If you notice sensitivity to fruits and veggies try switching to all organic and see if that makes a difference.

How To Help Prevent Foodborne Illness From Fresh Produce

1. Wash Fruits & Veggies

Always wash your veggies and fruit before consuming. It doesn’t have to be scolding hot water, what’s more important is rinsing for 20-30 seconds and never less. It’s not uncommon in the hustle and bustle of life to wash our fruits and veggies for inadequate amounts of time, but do your best to count off the seconds, “1-mississippi style”, to greatly reduce your risk of foodborne illness.

2. Buy Your Produce From Reputable Sources

Where you get your produce plays a role in how likely you are to get sick. Fresh produce that is infected with bacteria can come from anywhere but shopping somewhere that frequently sells expired or semi-rotting items is a disaster waiting to happen. Limit your shopping to places offering a consistently fresh selection of produce.

3. Avoid Cross-Contamination

Sometimes your fruits and veggies make you sick because they are cross-contaminated by things such as raw meat. Say for instance you use the same cutting board to cut meat and produce without properly desensitizing in between. Quickly rinsing off your cutting board is not enough to dissolve the bacteria on the surface. Instead, thoroughly rinse for 20-30 seconds with warm water and soap.   

Signs Of Foodborne Illness:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, possibly bloody
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea

Symptoms may be moderate or very severe depending on the type of foodborne illness and your body’s reaction. Sometimes symptoms last for only a couple hours and others time they persist for days.

If you are infected with C. botulinum or certain chemicals you could experience more severe symptoms due to increased impacts on your nervous system. If so, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizzy, weak
  • Blurry vision
  • Skin that is numb or tingly
  • Headache
  • Paralysis

Dehydration is a common factor that goes hand in hand with food poisoning. If you are throwing up and experiencing diarrhea you are probably not keeping anything down. It’s so important to continue drinking water in order to prevent your body from losing too many fluids. Remember, you can’t get better if your body is dehydrated.

Visit Plantation Urgent Medical Center For Foodborne Illness

Are you currently experiencing symptoms of foodborne illness? Visit Plantation’s Urgent Medical Center right now for the comprehensive care you deserve! 

The Best Urgent Care in South Florida is Waiting for You

Don’t wait. Experience the availability and affordability that you need. Walk-ins welcome.
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