Depositphotos stock photo quality control expert inspecting meat.html S

12 Surprising Facts About Food Poisoning

By Published On: June 20th, 2022Categories: Latest blogs0 CommentsTags: , ,

Even though food poisoning can be prevented easily by ensuring that food is cooked to the right temperature and stored safely, millions of Americans become ill every year due to contaminated food.

In an article explaining why every household needs a food thermometer, the Canadian Institute of Food Safety notes that many cases of food poisoning come from undercooked meats.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “Every year, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.”

If you don’t want to be one of the millions of people getting ill every year, your best defense is to learn as much as possible about food poisoning.

To help you with the basic information you need to ensure that all the food you eat is safe, we spent some time looking for surprising facts about food poisoning.

Food poisoning is when food becomes unsafe because toxins, viruses, or bacteria have contaminated it. Such food causes foodborne illnesses.

The free Australian health advice website Healthdirect.gov.au notes that certain toxins are found naturally in the food while other contaminants are introduced during the transportation, production, cooking, and storage phases.

Food contamination often results from bad handling and insufficient cooking.

On the other hand, certain foods are naturally poisonous. The online publisher of news and information focusing on human health and well-being, WebMD.com, lists some foods that can be naturally toxic, including two types of deadly mushrooms, the death cap (Amanita phalloides) and the destroying angel (Amanita virosa).

Depositphotos stock photo young woman suffering stomach pain.html S

1. Food Poisoning Leads to Certain Complications

Food poisoning is a serious issue because it can lead to certain complications. According to the web-based outlet for medical information and news, MedicalNewsToday.com, food poisoning is a major cause of gastroenteritis.

The same source defines gastroenteritis as “a condition involving inflammation of the lining of the gut – in particular, of the stomach and intestines.”

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases lists some common complications of food poisoning, including dehydration. Dehydration is triggered by the fact that food poisoning often causes diarrhea and vomiting, which deplete body fluids.

2. Symptoms of Food Poisoning Can Start Immediately or Later

Symptoms of food poisoning can begin immediately after eating the offending food or may start several weeks later.

MayoClinic.org, the American nonprofit academic medical center providing integrated education, research, and healthcare, lists some of the most common symptoms of food poisoning:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody or watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Fever

Even though food poisoning usually resolves itself within a few hours or days, MayoClinic.org advises that you should consult a doctor if your diarrhea lasts more than three days, your stools and vomit become bloody, or you’re vomiting to the extent that you are no longer able to keep liquids down.

3. Food Poisoning is Quite Common

The CDC reports that certain people are at higher risk of food poisoning – such as young children below the age of five and adults over 65 – because their ability to fight germs and sickness may be weakened.

The numbers cited by the World Health Organization (WHO) also show that food poisoning is quite common across the world:

  • Around 600 million people fall ill after eating contaminated food, and 420,000 die every year.

In low-income countries, US$110 billion is lost annually in medical expenses and lost productivity as a result of unsafe food.

4. Unsafe Food Spreads About 200 Diseases

The WHO puts the number of diseases caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, chemical substances, parasites, and viruses at more than 200, ranging from diarrhea to cancers.

The same organization adds that unsafe food “…also creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick.”

5. Cross-Contamination Leads to Food Poisoning

A process known as cross-contamination is the most common way through which food becomes unsafe.

The online provider of health information, HealthLine.com, defines cross-contamination “as the transfer of bacteria or other microorganisms from one substance to another.”

Healthline.com adds that cross-contamination could also mean the transfer of food allergens, toxins, or chemicals from one food to the next.

The best way to avoid cross-contamination is to ensure that foods that are consumed raw, such as fruit, are never allowed to come into contact with raw foods like meat.

6. Certain Foods are More Prone to Cause Poisoning

When it comes to food poisoning, not all foods are created equal. Some types of food are more prone to cause food poisoning than others.

Here are some of the foods that you need to watch out for, according to the interest group focusing on issues affecting individuals over the age of 50, AARP.org.

  • Chicken, beef, pork, and turkey:the biggest risks from these meats are related to cross-contamination and undercooking.
  • Fruits and vegetables:can pick up germs as they travel from the farm to the home.
  • Raw milk and cheese products:lead to food poisoning, especially if the milk is unpasteurized.
  • Eggs:can be contaminated by salmonella from the chicken laying them.
  • Seafood and raw shellfish:parasites in uncooked or undercooked fish can lead to illness.

Raw flour: often comes with contaminants from the field or the production process. However, the germs are killed if the flour is cooked to the right temperature.

7. Certain Groups are at Higher Risk of Food Poisoning

The WHO reports, “Children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125,000 deaths every year.”

AARP states, “As you age, your immune system slows down, curbing its ability to fight off germs. You’re also more likely to develop a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, when you’re older.”

The same source continues, “Both factors increase the risk of getting food poisoning and developing a severe illness from it. Even otherwise healthy older adults who take stomach-acid reducers may be creating a dangerous situation for themselves.”

Depositphotos stock photo young boy in hospital.html S

8. It’s Easy to Avoid Food Poisoning

The great news about food poisoning is that it can be avoided easily if you handle food with care and ensure that it’s cooked to the right temperature.

MedlinePlus.gov, a service of the United States National Library of Medicine, lists some tips on how to avoid food poisoning:

  • Wash your hands before and after touching raw meat.
  • Clean dishes that have had contact with raw meat.
  • Use a thermometerwhen cooking.
  • Place all leftover perishable food in the fridge within two hours after cooking.
  • Cook frozen food for the duration recommended by the manufacturer.

Do not eat foods with an unusual taste or odor.

9. Food Thermometer: Most Important Tool to Control Food Poisoning

One sure way of ensuring that you end up sick from food poisoning is to eat food that is not adequately cooked. But how do I know that my food is not undercooked? The most effective way is to use a meat thermometer.

Joyce McGarry writes for Michigan University Extension’s Safe Food & Water website. She explains why using a food thermometer is wise: “Cooking foods to their correct, safe temperatures will destroy the pathogenic microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness.”

McGarry adds, “A food thermometer is considered one of the most important tools in controlling bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella, and listeria.”

10. Small Containers Prevent Food Poisoning

It’s not always possible to cook just enough food for the people that will eat it. In most cases, we cook more than we need and have to store the leftovers. How you manage the food within the first two hours of cooking is very important.

The organization that brings together nutrition and dietetics practitioners, known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, advises that you should store the food in shallow airtight containers.

The smaller containers ensure that the food cools down rapidly so you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer. If you put food in a big container, it takes longer to cool down, which allows bacteria to grow.

11. Washing Meat May Lead to Cross-Contamination

Do you wash your meat before cooking it? If you do, you may need to reconsider. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that there is no benefit in washing meat and poultry.

The organization says, “In fact, if you think you’re removing bacteria from meat and poultry by washing it, you actually might be allowing germs to spread to other ready-to-eat foods and causing cross-contamination in the process.”

Depositphotos stock photo man cooking.html S

12. Relying on Smell or Taste can be Misleading

How often do you open the fridge, get something out of it, smell it and make an instant decision about whether the food is safe to eat or not? Common as it is, this method of determining whether food is safe or not is not the most effective.

The best way to ensure that consuming any food does not lead to food poisoning is to cook it to the right temperature, eat or refrigerate it within two hours of cooking, and eat the refrigerated food within two or three days.


Go to Top