In most cases, food poisoning occurs because of an individual or group’s negligence. This can be a restaurant failing to maintain a sterile kitchen environment, a produce manufacture failing to clean produce thoroughly before packaging it, a grocery store failing to remove a recalled product from its shelves, or even the host of a party leaving food at room temperature for hours, allowing harmful bacteria to develop in it. These are all examples of ignorance around food safety or callous handling of food products.
The terms “food poisoning” and “foodborne illness” are frequently used interchangeably online and in face-to-face conversations. Generally, they are understood to refer to the same thing, but the truth is that they actually refer to two distinct concepts. Foodborne illness is any illness caused by eating contaminated food.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have linked a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A to frozen strawberries imported to the country by the International Company for Agricultural Production and Processing (ICAPP). The strawberries were received at five distribution centers throughout the nation and sold under various regional brand names.
In Iowa, food poisoning victims have a new resource to turn toward for help: IowaSic, the new statewide food poisoning hotline. This hotline is a joint initiative between the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. The hotline is intended to help these agencies identify potential food poisoning outbreaks in the state before they occur.
Sometimes, food poisoning occurs as the result of a foreign particle in the victim's food, rather than due to the presence of harmful bacteria like Salmonella or Listeria. In certain cases, the cause of illness is the bacteria that enters the food through these foreign particles and in other cases, the victim suffers a unique type of illness or injury due to the specific contaminant.
When you read about food poisoning in the news, you probably see a lot of the same causes listed again and again: Meat, leafy vegetables, and dairy products are often the foods mentioned as harboring harmful Listeria, Salmonella, and E.Coli bacteria. These are some of the most common types of food poisoning to occur in the United States and the foods known for causing them.
Food poisoning can occur with fresh items, like meat and vegetables straight from the farm, or with packaged items that can be purchased frozen or vacuum-sealed. Many individuals do not realize that processed and packaged foods can be as dangerous as fresh foods because the processes the foods go through before reaching store shelves should ideally kill any harmful bacteria.
Bacteria are living organisms. It can sometimes be difficult to think of them this way because they are microscopic, but they are organisms just like birds, fish, and human beings. Bacteria are unicellular, which means that each individual is only made up of one cell, rather than the trillions of cells that comprise a human being.
Although certain types of food are linked with food poisoning outbreaks more frequently than others, nearly any type of food or consumable product can carry harmful bacteria that can cause victims to fall ill. One recent report from Food Safety News cites frozen strawberries as the culprit for the recent outbreak of Hepatitis A.
When you read about food poisoning outbreaks in the news or see them on television, you probably hear the same names over and over: Salmonella, Listeria, Norovirus, and E.Coli. These types of harmful bacteria can spread quickly, causing a large number of people to become ill. Although they are four common types of food poisoning, they are not the only types of food poisoning. Other types of food poisoning that you might not have heard of include Botulism, C. Perfringens, Hepatitis A, and Vibrio Vulnificus.