Health & wellness

Foodborne Diseases

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.  As we move into Spring with warmer weather and the frequency with which we grill and picnic outdoors, it is important to be reminded of safety concerns when preparing and consuming food.

There are more than 250 foodborne diseases.  Most of them are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  Harmful toxins and chemicals also can contaminate foods and cause foodborne illness.

People who have consumed dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually feel symptoms within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur as quickly as 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Although most people will recover from a foodborne illness within a short period of time without medical care, some are not so fortunate. In some cases, foodborne illness can lead to chronic, severe, life-threatening health problems or even death.

This is especially true for people with weak immune systems including the very young, elderly, and people with diseases that weaken the immune system or who are on medicines that suppress the immune system. Pregnant women also need to be careful.

Food poisoning may cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, or nausea. See your doctor if you experience high fever (over 101.5°F), blood in stools, diarrhea that lasts more than three days, frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquid down, & signs of dehydration (decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up)

Follow these tips to prevent food poisoning:

  • Clean – Wash your hands and work surfaces often.
  • Separate – Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from ready-to-eat foods in your shopping cart, refrigerator, and meal preparation area.
  • Cook – Cook food to the right internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer.
  • Chill – Keep your refrigerator below 40oF. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking (or within 1 hour if above 90oF outside).

Make sure your spring blossoms into a safe and illness-free summer.

(taken from the City of Cincinnati’s Health Department newsletter: 12-19-2018)

Kimya Moyo, Health Liaison


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