Causes

The following organisms can cause food-borne illness: Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, Cyclospora cayetanensis, Escherichia coli, (E. coli 0157:H7), Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Shigella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Campylobacter jejuni is caused by the ingestion of live bacteria and can be transmitted to humans via unpasteurized milk, contaminated water, and raw or undercooked meats, poultry, and shellfish. Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, is the most deadly of all food pathogens. It is transmitted by improperly canned food, whether it is home-canned or commercially prepared. Clostridium perfringens is transmitted by eating heavily contaminated food, and it tends to infect those who eat food that has been left standing on buffets or steam tables for long periods. Fe-ces-contaminated food or water transmits Cyclospora cayetanensis. Foods such

food poisoning: illness caused by consumption of spoiled food, usually containing bacteria pathogen: organism that causes disease bacteria: single-celled organisms without nuclei, some of which are infectious virus: noncellular infectious agent that requires a host cell to reproduce parasitic: feeding off another organism toxins: poison

Escherichia coli: common bacterium found in human large intestine botulism: poisoning from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum

A transmission electron micrograph (TEM) shows a Salmonella sp. bacterium. The bacterium is transmitted through contact with a carrier or by ingestion of contaminated meat or dairy products. [USDA/Science Source/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.]

as undercooked hamburger or ground poultry and unpasteurized milk or apple juice can transmit E. coli 0157:H7. Listeria monocytogenes can be transmitted to humans via unpasteurized dairy foods, such as milk, soft cheeses, and ice creams, and via leafy vegetables and processed meats. Salmonella is transmitted by eating contaminated food or by contact with a carrier (a human or animal capable of transmitting infectious organisms). Salmonella poisoning may also occur through cross-contamination of uncontaminated foods that have come into contact with uncooked foods. This may occur when one uses the same cutting board to cut both raw chicken and fresh vegetables.

Shigella is a contamination of food by infected food handlers; it is primarily transmitted in cold salads such as tuna, chicken, or potato salad.

Staphylococcus aureus is transmitted by carriers and by eating foods that contain the toxin.

Other substances that cause food poisoning include: mold, Trichinella spiralis, and dysentery. Mold is a type of fungus. Some molds produce a mycotoxin called aflatoxin that can develop in spoiled peanuts and peanut butter, soybeans, grains, nuts, and spices. Trichinella spiralis is a parasitic worm that can be present in undercooked pork. Dysentery is a disease caused by microorganisms (protozoa) that are introduced to food by carriers or contaminated water.

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