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Food Borne Illinesses Essay

Updated August 9, 2022

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Food Borne Illinesses Essay essay

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While food in America has been held to a high standard of cleanliness and our water supply one of the safest in the world, the government and research groups have found that nearly 48 million cases of food born illnesses occur annually. That’s a ratio of up to 1 in 6 Americans each year. These illnesses lead onto hospitalizations counting up to 128,000 cases and even an astounding 3,000 deaths.__ After hearing and seeing the statistical values you wonder, how in our country can we have so many issues related to food, yet have high regulations and some of the most trained individuals making and harvesting our food? One simple response can be human error.

Although that response shouldn’t be accepted, but the more you dive into the processes of food preparation and look at the science behind the matter you begin to see gaps and can pin point a possible link to becoming sick. Within this paper I want to discuss the commonality of food borne illnesses and cover the widespread onset of the diseases, two of the most common illnesses related to food or contaminated water consumption, discuss the healthcare spending, long and short term effects of exposure and then also provide some tips and techniques to prevent further spreading and limit transmission of this bacterium.

For instance, it’s a Saturday night. You and your significant other decide to spend the evening out on the town for an innocent enjoyment at one of the most famous restaurants in town. You order steak and then your wife orders chicken. Once your food arrives and you notice the food is soft and moist but appears suitable for consumption. You begin to eat, spend the rest of your evening out enjoying each other’s company. Next morning, you wake up to cramping sensations in your abdomen, pressure within your gut along accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and instantly you relate your sickness to the night before. After a trip to the ER you are diagnoses with clostridium perfringens and pushing fluids through your body to return to normal function.

This small example was simply provided to allow those to understand the simplicity of the transmission of the disease. Food Borne illness is simply from eating or drinking contaminated foods. The onset can occur within minutes or even up to weeks after ingestion with the presentation of flu like symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever but often includes cramping in the abdominal cavity as well as vision impairments. Sometimes this gets confused with the flu that many people overlook other symptoms to realize the illness is caused by harmful bacteria or other pathogens of food. One highlight with food related sickness is that everyone is at risk ranging from children to the elderly population. No one is “off limits” from catching the viruses or bacteria but great caution should be taken for certain individuals.

Those who are at greater risk are infants, young children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and transplant patients.) People with the weakened immune system responses may only have to be exposed to few levels of the bacteria while other can be exposed to thousands and present with no symptoms. Our immune and endocrine systems play an enormous role in fighting off infections in order to regain homeostasis. One question that arises with food borne illnesses is the ability to diagnose and identify these germs. With the food borne illness being germs and bacteria the ability to see these organisms is impossible to the naked eye and microscopes are needed. Samples of stool, of the gut, are used to measure the good organisms within the colon and potentially the bad organisms that can aid with diagnoses and treatment.

The top 5 germs/bacteria that cause illnesses from food eaten in the United States are norovirus, salmonella, clostridium perfringens, campylobacter, staphylococcus aureau (Staph).  Each of these germs effect our bodies and have various causes. Some other germs don’t cause as many illnesses, but when they do, the illnesses are more likely to lead to hospitalization and have greater effects on other systems of the body. Those germs include clostridium botulinum, listeria, excherichia coli (e. coli), virbio. Three of the more common bacteria including salmonella, clostridium perfringens and norovirus will be discussed in depth within this paper.

When it comes to our food, especially meats, microorganisms are be present on food products when you purchase them. One thing to always consider is that even we as humans have millions of organisms within our bodies so it should be understood that these meats were once part of either live chickens or cattle. These products are not sterile and there is no way to completely clean them with a chemical without harming humans. This should also be considered with some night shade vegetables like tomatoes, melons or lettuce. Various types of bacteria are naturally in our environment. Microorganisms that causes illness are called pathogens and once pathogens enter food supply or aren’t expelled through the cooking process then that carries over to food Bourne illness.

Although this typically has a negative connotation, keep in mind that there are some good bacteria found in the process of making cheese and yogurt. One example of “bad” microorganism is salmonella. Salmonella is the name of a group of rod shaped bacteria and is one of the most common cases and most discussed with in the US. Salmonella occurs in raw poultry, eggs, beef and sometimes on unwashed fruit and vegetables. Some common vegetables include cucumbers, cantaloupe and even frozen berries. One concerning food is ice cream where the use of eggs and even fruits are combined creating a risky combination however with the correct cooking process risk of contagion is much less. You also can get infected after handling pets, especially reptiles like snakes, turtles, and even lizards. The symptoms of salmonella include fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches, possible nausea and vomiting or loss of appetite.

These symptoms usually last up to 4-7 days pending the bodies immune system. Your health care provider can diagnose the infection with a simple stool sample test. Most people get better without treatment including rest and drinking water. Some cases it requires antibiotics and greater caution should always be taken with those with compromised immune systems. In that case other health course action is required including hospitalization and IV fluids. Although the ability to be contagious can be rather easy, there are ways to limit the transmission. Quite simply one of the leading ways we can limit the spread or onset of salmonella by assuring poultry related cuisines to be cooked the correct temperature. We can also prevent spreading through hand hygiene, avoidance of meat touching utensils and separate from other uncooked items. One key tip provided at is to separate cooked foot from uncooked food, wear cloves when handling meat, change utensils when prepping meats.

Another common microorganism that is a result from undercooked meats is clostridium perfringens. Clostridium perfringens (c perfringens) is a spore-forming gram-positive bacterium that is found in many environmental sources as well as in the intestines of humans and animals. C. perfringens is commonly found on raw meat and poultry. It prefers to grow in conditions with very little or no oxygen, and under ideal conditions can multiply very rapidly. Some strains of C. perfringens produce a toxin in the intestine that causes illness. Cooking kills the growing C. perfringens cells that cause food poisoning, but not necessarily the spores that can grow into new cells. If cooked food is not promptly served or refrigerated, the spores can grow and produce new cells.

Outbreaks including this bacterium usually occurs in places where food has been cooked and kept warm and exposed for long periods of time like nursing homes, prisons, schools, or with cratering food companies. Once an individual has eaten the contaminated food, symptoms including diarrhea and cramping of abdominals occurs within 6-24 hours. Initially the illness begins rapidly and lasts for up to 1 day, cannot be passed from one another. This virus doesn’t include symptoms like vomiting or fever so diagnosing this illness is much simpler. Laboratory diagnosis of C. perfringens food poisoning by detecting the type of toxin feces. C. perfringens spores per gram is the measurement tool, but the amount within the 48 hours of illness is required to aid in diagnosing. Oral hydration and at worst utilizing IV fluids and electrolyte replacement can be used to prevent dehydration and antibiotics are not recommended. In most cases related to these types of illnesses simply increasing fluids and eating foods that boost immune heath is easily the cure.

A final virus that will be discussed is norovirus. Unlike the other viruses previously discussed the norovirus can get norovirus many times over your like because there are many different types. Sometimes our bodies can even develop an immunity with specific types. Norovirus can easily contaminate food and water because it only takes a very small amount of virus particles to make you sick. Food and water can get contaminated with norovirus in many ways, including when an infected person touches food contaminated vomit or fecal matter, fecal matter entering the body or even where food is grown or harvested with contaminated water.  Once contaminated a person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus and most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days. If you have norovirus illness you can feel extremely ill, and vomit or have diarrhea many times a day like other microorganism infections.

This disease can have both short and long term effects as the body can build an immunity to this form of infection. Similar to the previously mentioned illnesses proper hand hygiene, washing laundry, cleaning utensils, handle preparation are important in prevention of the worsening or catching of the disease. Some common indicators and result of norovirus include dehydration, lack of sleep and reduced tear production. Each year, foodborne norovirus illness costs about $2 billion dollars, mainly due to lost productivity and healthcare expenses in the United States.  Upon looking at the disease itself you can easily assume the outbreaks and public effect of the norovirus. One interesting fact is that you can get norovirus anytime during the year.

Most outbreaks in the United States occur from November and April which are primarily the more ill months of year. Norovirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among U.S. children less than 5 years of age and is responsible for nearly 1 million visits within the pediatric realm. Considering kids develop an awareness for the world and growing sensory system their instinct is to taste an object so the ability for fecal and contaminated matter to reach the body is fairly easily, which is why norovirus is more prevalent in kids. Although kids can catch it, norovirus also occurs heavily in long term residency. The introduction of norovirus into healthcare facilities like nursing homes can be as a cause of patients, staff, visitors and contaminated foods. Outbreaks within these facilities are much more concerning as those who already live there are more than likely to have other comorbidities that make this virus much more deadly. From a worldwide perspective about one out of every five cases of acute gastroenteritis that leads to diarrhea and vomiting is caused by norovirus.

Norovirus causes 685 million cases of acute gastroenteritis, making it the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. About 200 million cases are among children under 5, leading to an estimated 50,000 child deaths every year, mostly in developing countries. There isn’t a correlation to income with this disease, as again, can happen anywhere at anytime. After looking into the top 3 forms of food borne illnesses the forms of diagnosing are important to a cure.

The infections of food borne pathogens is usually diagnosed by specific laboratory tests that identify the contributing organism. “Bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli are found by culturing stool samples in the laboratory and identifying the bacteria that grow on the agar or other culture medium. Parasites can be identified by examining stools under the microscope. Viruses are more difficult to identify, as they are too small to see under a light microscope and are difficult to culture. Viruses are usually identified by testing stool samples for genetic markers that indicate a specific virus is present. Although some may be easier to identify, some food borne infections are not identified by routine laboratory procedures and require specialized, experimental, and/or expensive tests that are not generally available.” Occasionally if the diagnosis is yet to be established further testing can be completed but the physician must order more intricate diagnostic testing with laboratory using adequate instruments using appropriate procedures for accuracy. Often ill individuals do not seek treatment as the symptoms begin to dissipate each day.

There are also examples where the patient’s symptoms and illness are dispelled from the body while awaiting an appointment with their physician. Studies have found that because many people always resolve to just “waiting it out” that many of the illnesses go undiagnosed and most are not laboratory confirmed. Even those who are hospitalized because of salmonella often are labeled ascertain. After further investigation the costliness that comes with these illnesses ranges up to 365 million per year. In bodied in that amount was to combat the health crisis through advertisements and making sure that the public was aware of the concerns, but money was spent on hospitalizations, hospital fees and laboratory fees. It was interesting to find that people spent the money on a diagnostic tool that wasn’t 100% certain. This created unnecessary spending on patients as well as from the insurance company so that’s why many physicians and ER workers encourage fluid consumption and drinking Gatorade as an act of replenishing electrolytes.

In case you haven’t already notices cooking plays an important role in maintaining health. If foods are cleaned and cooked to the correct temperature the spread of theses viruses is much less. After research the CDC and FDA have created the “Danger Zone”. The danger zone represents the temperature zone of 40-140 degrees fahrenheit where bacteria capitalizes its growth and thrives.

The FDA has provided tips including:

  • Store food in the refrigerator
  • Keep warm foods warm and cold foods cold
  • Cook all raw beef/pork/lamb/roast to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F degrees
  • Cook all ground beef/pork/lamb/veal/ to an internal temperature to 160 F degrees
  • Utilize food thermometer
  • Cook poultry to 165 F degrees
  • Reheat cooked food to 165 degreed F, maintain cooked food at 140 degrees F.

By following these preventable measured once can prevent the transmission of these viruses. In addition to these key points the CDC and FDA have provided insightful information to aid in better understanding with prevention. In order to prevent spreading in our homes it’s also prevalent that within healthcare that we diagnose and treat infections by using best practices and report them rapidly, continue to discuss with high-risk patients about food safety and report outbreaks to local health department to determine the correlation of food or water contamination.

Food Borne Illinesses Essay essay

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Food Borne Illinesses Essay. (2022, Aug 09). Retrieved from