Foods that can cause different types of food poisoning complications

We all know that improper and unhygienic handling of food items, especially poultry and seafood, can cause different types of food poisoning before and during consumption. But that’s not all. Did you know that specific food item have certain properties that increase the risk of food poisoning? Yes, you read it right. The food that you are consuming decides your chances of being diagnosed with foodborne illnesses. 

While young adults still have higher chances of being less affected, older adults’ consumption mostly lands them in healthcare institutions. This happens because as people grow older, their immune system gets weak and fails to protect the body from potential diseases robustly. Most older adults develop various chronic diseases that further increase their chances of being diagnosed with food poisoning complications. That is why older adults are more likely to get infected by foodborne diseases caused by E. coli, listeria, campylobacter, and salmonella (1). 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have comprehended a list of food items that have the potential of causing intestinal complications. There it is best for older adults aged above 65 years to avoid them. Let’s look at them. 

Meat Products

Turkey, pork, beef, and chicken pose the most significant risks of intestinal illnesses due to their cross-contamination and undercooking probabilities. Even though meat is a powerhouse of vital nutrients needed by the body, raw meat is often contaminated with various pathogens like Perfringens, Clostridium, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. These pathogens are mostly present in the animals’ feathers and gut area and can survive until they are cooked at the right temperature. 

Food poisoning symptoms caused by undercooked meat products range from bloody stool and dehydration to vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms are muscle pain, fever, chills, abdominal pain, and cramping. 

Raw Flour

Flour that is not treated to kill Escherichia coli bacteria present in it is called raw flour. E. coli can contaminate the grains in the field or during the flour production process. The bacteria can be destroyed by cooking flour at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Consumption of E coli. causes inflammation of the intestinal tract that is a common condition among most types of food poisoning. It eventually leads to travelers’ diarrhea. In some cases, raw flour can also contain salmonella along with E coli. Therefore, individuals should never taste raw flour during baking or cooking food (2)

Rice

Studies have found that uncooked rice might carry spores of the bacterium Bacillus cereus, which can cause food poisoning among older adults. Research has also suggested that these spores can easily survive in uncooked rice and leftover rice that eventually grows into bacteria. 

The toxins released by the bacteria results in common food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can stay for up to 24 hours and are mild. Therefore, doctors always suggest storing leftover rice in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria multiplication and toxins production. 

Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Raw milk and it’s products, such as yogurt, ice cream, and soft cheese, have high chances of being contaminated. Some of the common germs that can contaminate raw milk and other dairy products include Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, Campylobacter, and Brucella. 

Apart from older adults, infants and people with a weak immune system or underlying health conditions like HIV, organ transplant, or cancer are more susceptible to risk associated with drinking raw milk. In some cases, the germs had even caused other complications such as kidney failure in addition to food poisoning (3)

Shellfish

Various seafood like scallops, oysters, mussels, and clams are some of the riskiest foods that can cause food poisoning to almost everyone, irrespective of age. This happens because the shellfishes mostly consume algae that end up producing toxins inside the flesh of the seafood. Therefore, when someone consumes such toxic food, they directly consume the toxins embedded inside their food (4)

Doctors prescribe to buy store-bought seafood that is mostly safe for consumption. People should always avoid shellfish along with other seafood that is caught from unknown and unmonitored areas. Such seafood can be contaminated by various other factors like septic tanks, stormwater drains, and sewage.  

The best way to avoid getting foodborne illnesses from shellfish is by buying them from well-known markets and storing them in cold storage before cooking. Oysters, mussels, and clams should be cooked till their shells open. In case the shells do not open, throw them away. 

What can you do?

There are various types of pathogens that can contaminate your food. Different pathogens cause different types of food poisoning. There are only two methods by which you can avoid getting foodborne illnesses. First, maintain hygiene whenever you are handling any food items, cooking them properly, and appropriately store them. Secondly, keep track of the food items that have made you fall sick before. Try to refrain from consuming those food items in the future. This way, you can maintain your health without worrying about what’s going inside your stomach. 

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