The Anatomy of a Food-borne Illness

anatomy of food-borne illness

What is Foodborne Illness?
Foodborne Illness is an illness resulting from the intake of contaminated or spoiled food. Commonly referred to as food poisoning, foodborne illness is generally caused by pathogenic bacteria, norovirus, pests, and parasites. These bacteria, virus, and parasites spread easily through a process called cross-contamination, which is the leading cause of most food poisoning cases.

What causes food spoilage and contamination?
Exposing food to unsafe temperatures, improper storage, unclean food surfaces, unsanitary kitchen practices, lack of personal hygiene, and insufficient detection procedures are primary causes of food spoilage and contamination.

Three types of microorganisms cause food to spoil: bacteria to the presence of yeast and molds, bacteria and viruses, and enzymes and fungi.

Fresh food can easily become contaminated when exposed to a spoiled food item. When one infected surface is exposed to fresh food, these contaminating microorganisms transfer from infected to fresh food. This process is called cross-contamination. However, cross contamination can take place from more than just food surfaces. The types of cross contamination include:

  1. Food to food contamination
  2. Food handler to food contamination
  3. Equipment to food contamination
  4. Environment to food contamination

What happens after contaminated food is consumed?
When pathogenic bacteria are ingested, the body’s primary reaction is to try and get rid of it. The symptoms start showing almost immediately with the person feeling nauseated.

Bacteria release toxins and viruses that damage the body’s cells, causing food poisoning symptoms:  diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, etc.

Food-borne illness stats in America

  • Each year, 1 in 6 Americans is sickened by food contamination.
  • More than 250 diseases have been identified.
  • The Centers for Disease Control says 128,000 Americans are due to foodborne diseases each year. 3000 die.

Steps to avoid foodborne illness

  1. Know the source of food. Slaughterhouses that lack sanitation are a leading cause of food contamination.
  2. Keep food at the right temperature. Storing food below 40 degrees F helps slow the growth of bacteria. Cooking foods to recommended temperatures help destroy harmful bacteria.
  3. A Spotless Kitchen. Proper washing and sanitization practices go a long way toward preventing cross contamination. Wash and sanitize utensils, chopping boards, and knives after every use.
  4. Separation is necessary. Separate raw food from cooked food while storing and refrigerating.
  5. Regular pest and insect controls are crucial so that no food item is affected by rodents or other pest.
  1. Adopt hygienic practices. Sneeze with your mouth covered and immediately wash hands. Wash hands after using the restroom.

Need to train your team on proper food handling technique? Get everyone Food Handler certified today at

The post The Anatomy of a Food-borne Illness appeared first on Learn2Serve Blog.

Source: TABC Blog by Learn 2 Serve

michelle roebuck

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