September 27, 2022

What You Need to Know about Foodborne Illnesses

While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, the Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually — the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128 000 hospitalizations and 3 000 deaths.

While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, the Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually

Foodborne Illnesses

The chart below includes foodborne disease-causing organisms that frequently cause illness in the United States. As the chart shows, the threats are numerous and varied, with symptoms ranging from relatively mild discomfort to very serious,life-threatening illness. While the very young, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of serious consequences from most foodborne illnesses, some of the organisms shown below pose grave threats to all persons.

 

Organism

Common Name of Illness

Onset Time After Ingesting

Signs & Symptoms

Duration

Food Sources

Bacillus cereus

B. cereus food poisoning

10-16 hrs

Abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, nausea

24-48 hours

Meats, stews, gravies, vanilla sauce

Campylobacter jejuni

Campylobacteriosis

2-5 days

Diarrhea, cramps, fever, and vomiting; diarrhea may be bloody

2-10 days

Raw and undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk,contaminated water

Clostridium
botulinum

Botulism

12-72 hours

Vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, double vision, difficulty in swallowing, muscle weakness. Can result in respiratory failure and death

Variable

Improperly canned foods, especially home-canned vegetables, fermented fish, baked potatoes in aluminum foil

Clostridium
perfringens

Perfringens food
poisoning

8–16 hours

Intense abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea

Usually 24
hours

Meats, poultry, gravy, dried or precooked foods, time and/or temperature-abused foods

Cryptosporidium

Intestinal
cryptosporidiosis

2-10 days

Diarrhea (usually watery), stomach cramps, upset stomach, slight fever

May be remitting and relapsing over weeks to months

Uncooked food or food contaminated by an ill food handler after cooking, contaminated drinking water

Cyclospora
cayetanensis

Cyclosporiasis

1-14 days, usually at least 1 week

Diarrhea (usually watery), loss of appetite, substantial loss of weight, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue

May be remitting and relapsing over weeks to months

Various types of fresh produce (imported berries, lettuce, basil)

E. coli
(Escherichia coli)
producing toxin

E. coli infection
(common cause of
“travelers’ diarrhea”)

1-3 days

Watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, some vomiting

3-7 or more days

Water or food contaminated with human feces

E. coli O157:H7

Hemorrhagic colitis
or E. coli O157:H7 infection

1-8 days

Severe (often bloody) diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Usually, little or no fever is present. More common in children 4 years or younger. Can lead to kidney failure.

5-10 days

Undercooked beef (especially hamburger), unpasteurized milk and juice, raw fruits and vegetables (e.g. sprouts), and contaminated water

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis

28 days average (15-50 days)

Diarrhea, dark urine, jaundice, and flu-like symptoms, i.e., fever, headache, nausea, and abdominal pain

Variable, 2 weeks-3 months

Raw produce, contaminated drinking water, uncooked foods and cooked foods that are not reheated after contact with an infected food handler; shellfish from contaminated waters

Listeria
monocytogenes

Listeriosis

9-48 hrs for gastro-intestinal symptoms, 2-6 weeks for invasive disease

Fever, muscle aches, and nausea or diarrhea. Pregnant women may have mild flu-like illness, and infection can lead to premature delivery or stillbirth. The elderly or immunocompromised patients may develop bacteremia or meningitis.

Variable

Unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, ready-to-eat deli meats

Noroviruses

Variously called viral gastroenteritis, winter diarrhea, acute non- bacterial gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and food infection

12-48 hrs

Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fever, headache. Diarrhea is more prevalent in adults, vomiting more common in children.

12-60 hrs

Raw produce, contaminated drinking water, uncooked foods and cooked foods that are not reheated after contact with an infected food handler; shellfish from contaminated waters

Salmonella

Salmonellosis

6-48 hours

Diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting

4-7 days

Eggs, poultry, meat, unpateurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables

Shigella

Shigellosis or Bacillary dysentery

4-7 days

Abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea. Stools may contain blood and mucus.

24-48 hrs

Raw produce, contaminated drinking water, uncooked foods and cooked foods that are not reheated after contact with an infected food handler

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcal food poisoning

1-6 hours

Sudden onset of severe nausea and vomiting. Abdominal cramps. Diarrhea and fever may be present.

24-48 hours

Unrefrigerated or improperly refrigerated meats, potato and egg salads, cream pastries

Vibrio
parahaemolyticus

V. parahaemolyticusinfection

4-96 hours

Watery (occasionally bloody) diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever

2-5 days

Undercooked or raw seafood, such as shellfish

Vibrio vulnificus

V. vulnificusinfection

1-7 days

Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloodborne infection. Fever, bleeding within the skin, ulcers requiring surgical removal. Can be fatal to persons with liver disease or weakened immune systems.

2-8 days

Undercooked or raw seafood, such as shellfish (especially oysters)

 

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