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Jewish Recipes --> Food and Health -- > Food Safety Education --> Organisms That Can Bug You

Consult Doctor on all health and medical and your Rabbi concerning all kosher and Jewish Law issues. This web site is for informational purposes ONLY.

Organisms That Can Bug You

Disease & Organism That Causes It Source of Illness Symptoms

Botulinum toxin (produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria)

Spores of these bacteria are widespread. But these bacteria produce toxin only in an anaerobic (oxygen-less) environment of little acidity. Found in a considerable variety of improperly canned or home-canned foods, such as corn, green beans, soups, beets, asparagus, mushrooms, tuna, and liver paté. Also in luncheon meats, ham, sausage, garlic in oil, and smoked and salted fish. Onset: Generally 4-36 hours after eating. Neurotoxic symptoms, including double vision, inability to swallow, speech difficulty, and progressive paralysis of the respiratory system. Get medical help immediately. Botulism can be fatal.

Campylobacter jejuni

Bacteria on poultry, cattle, and sheep can contaminate meat and milk of these animals. Chief food sources: raw poultry, meat, and unpasteurized milk. Onset: Generally 2-5 days after eating. Diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, and sometimes bloody stools. Lasts 7-10 days.
E. coli infection

Escherichia coli O157:H7

Bacteria in meat, especially raw or undercooked ground beef, raw milk, contaminated water, unpasteurized ciders and juices, and on produce. Onset: A few days after eating. Bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps, dehydration, colitis, neurological symptoms, stroke, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause permanent kidney damage or failure and death. Lasts 4-15 days.

Listeria monocytogenes

Found in soft cheese, unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked meat, hot dogs, poultry and fish; and ready-to-eat foods like luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented and dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry. The Listeria bacteria resist heat, salt, nitrite, and acidity better than many other microorganisms. They survive and grow at low temperatures. Onset: From 7-30 days after eating, but most symptoms have been reported 48-72 hours after consumption of contaminated food. Fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Primarily affects pregnant women and their fetuses, newborns, the elderly, people with cancer, and those with impaired immune systems. Can cause fetal and infant death.
Perfringens foodborne illness

Closidium perfringens

In most instances, caused by failure to keep food hot. A few organisms are often present after cooking and multiply to toxic levels during slow cool-down and storage of prepared foods. Meats and meat products are most frequently implicated. These organisms grow better than other bacteria between 49 and 54 degrees Celsius (120-130 Fahrenheit). So gravies and stuffing must be kept above 60 C (140 F) and cooled rapidly when being refrigerated. Onset: Generally 8-12 hours after eating. Abdominal pain and diarrhea, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Symptoms last a day or less and are usually mild. Can be more serious in older or debilitated people.

Salmonella bacteria

Raw meats, poultry, eggs, milk and other dairy products, shrimp, frog legs, fresh produce, sprouts, unpasteurized orange juice, coconut, chocolate, and foods containing raw eggs. Onset: Generally 6-48 hours after eating. Nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache. All age groups are susceptible, but symptoms are most severe for the elderly, the infirm, and infants.
Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery)

Shigella bacteria

Food becomes contaminated when a human carrier does not wash hands after using the toilet and then handles liquid or moist food that is not cooked thoroughly afterwards. Onset: l-7 days after eating. Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, sometimes vomiting, and blood, pus or mucus in stools.
Staphylococcal foodborne illness

Staphylococcal enterotoxin (produced by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria)

Toxin produced when food contaminated with the bacteria is left too long unrefrigerated. Meats, ham, poultry, egg products, tuna, potato and macaroni salads, and cream-filled pastries are good environments for these bacteria to produce toxin. Onset: Generally 30 minutes to 8 hours after eating. Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, cramps, and prostration. Lasts 24-48 hours. Rarely fatal.
Vibrio infection

Vibrio vulnificus




Vibrio parahaemolyticus

The bacteria live in coastal waters and can infect humans either through open wounds or through consumption of raw contaminated seafood (oysters, clams). The bacteria are most numerous in warm weather. Onset: Abrupt. Chills, fever, and/or prostration. At high risk are people with liver disease, low gastric (stomach) acid, and weakened immune systems.
The bacteria live in coastal waters and can infect humans through consumption of raw contaminated seafood (oysters, clams). The bacteria are most numerous in warm weather. Onset: 4 hours to 4 days after eating. Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. Lasts about 2 l/2 days.

Cyclospora cayetanensis

Source is unknown, but it's suspected that parasites in the water that is used to apply pesticides to crops contaminate foods such as berries, other fruit, raw vegetables, and basil. Onset: About 2 days. Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Lasts 1 week to 2 months.

Cryptosporidium parvum

Generally associated with parasites in sewage, contaminated water that gets on food, and not washing hands after using the toilet. Onset: 1-12 days. Profuse watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, appetite loss, vomiting, and low-grade fever.

Giardia lamblia

Most frequently associated with consumption of contaminated water, including that in swimming pools. May be transmitted by uncooked foods that become contaminated while growing or after cooking by infected food workers. Cool, moist conditions favor organism's survival. Onset: l-3 days. Sudden onset of explosive watery stools, abdominal cramps, anorexia, nausea, and vomiting. Especially infects hikers, children, travelers, and institutionalized patients.

Hepatitis A virus

Mollusks (oysters, clams, mussels, and cockles) become contaminated when their beds are polluted by untreated sewage. Raw shellfish are especially susceptible, although cooking does not always kill the virus. Onset: Begins with malaise, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, and fever. After 3-10 days patient develops jaundice with darkened urine. Severe cases can cause liver damage and death.
Norovirus gastroenteritis

Noroviruses (also known as Norwalk-like viruses; Norwalk, Hawaii, Snow Mountain, Taunton viruses; caliciviruses)

Sources of contamination include human feces, raw shellfish from polluted waters, and ready-to-eat foods (salads, sandwiches) prepared by an infected person. Onset: 1-2 days. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, and low-grade fever. Lasts about 36 hours.

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