Food-borne illness, more commonly known as “food poisoning” can ruin more than just a nice dinner out. The sickness associated with food-borne illness is caused by different disease-causing microbes, or pathogens so food poisoning may be the more accurate term. These microbes contaminate food and cause the myriad of food-borne infections. In addition, poisonous chemicals, or other harmful substances can cause food-borne diseases if they are present in food.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Each year 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick from food-borne diseases.
- Each year 3,000 Americans die of food-borne diseases.
- Reducing food-borne illness by just 10% would keep 5 million Americans from getting sick each year.
- Preventing a single fatal case of E. coli O157 infection would save an estimated $7 million.
- More than 250 different food-borne diseases have been described.
- Most of these diseases are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be food-borne.
- Other diseases are poisonings, caused by harmful toxins or chemicals that have contaminated the food
How Is Food-Borne Illness Identified?
That can be difficult. Sometimes food-borne illness produces an effect which is relatively limited. In that case, only a few people experience symptoms. Many times these people do not even realize the cause of their discomfort. Other times, the effects of a food-borne illness are more widespread, in the case of an outbreak. An outbreak of food-borne illness occurs when a group of people consume the same contaminated food and two or more of them come down with the same illness.
What Causes Food-Borne Illness?
Often, a combination of events contributes to food-borne illness. Food may be left out at room temperature for many hours, allowing the bacteria to multiply to dangerously high numbers, and then later be insufficiently cooked to kill the bacteria. Either event on its own is enough to cause sickness, combined, the effects may be deadly.
How Can I Tell If I Have A Food-Borne Illness?
Given the endless choices of diseases and causes you can see how there would also be a wide variety of symptoms. There is no one set of symptoms that denotes food-borne illness. The one commonality is that the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract. So the initial symptoms begin there.
- Abdominal cramps
BE AWARE!: the law limits the time you have to file suit for food-borne illness claims. If you miss this deadline you may be denied the right to file suit later.