What Are the Causes of Food-Borne Illness?
Food-borne illness are caused by the contamination of food with various harmful organisms or poisons. Illness may be caused by a bacteria, virus, parasite, toxin or chemical. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 250 or more food-borne illnesses have been identified.
Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the world. Eating undercooked or raw poultry is a common way to contract this bacteria. Salmonella and E. coli are more common bacterial causes of food-borne illnesses and are often found in undercooked or raw meat.
Norwalk virus and calcivirus are the most common viruses responsible for foodborne illness. These can be spread through raw meat and fish that have come from contaminated water. People often spread these viruses to one another.
In some cases, foods may develop toxins that cause illness. Examples of these toxins are Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause severe vomiting, and Clostridium botulinum can cause botulism, which can be fatal.
People become ill from eating poisonous mushrooms or fish in some instances. These poisonous species are often misidentified as plants or animals that are safe to eat. Another source of illness is the high vitamin A content of polar bear liver. Eskimos sometimes eat this and suffer from an overdose of vitamin A, which is harmful.
Pesticides and Chemicals
Certain metals, chemicals, and pesticides can cause food-borne illness. Arsenic, mercury and lead are present naturally and can cause illness when ingested in large quantities. Pesticides can contaminate foods and can cause illness in large quantities. Detergents, cleaners and lubricants used in food processing equipment can also sometimes contaminate foods, causing food-borne illness.
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