Foods contaminated with harmful bacteria can be deadly
Foods contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli and listeria can be dangerous.
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced several recalls of contaminated food products. Instant non-fat dried milk, whey protein, fruit stabilizers and thickening agents produced by Plainview Milk Products were recalled because of suspected salmonella. Other related food recalls include:
-- Precision Foods Inc. of St. Louis recalled certain Land O Lakes-brand drinking cocoa called "Madagascar Vanilla"
-- Meijer Inc. recalled one type of its Meijer-brand instant non-fat dry milk
-- Giant Food LLC of Landover, Md., recalled its Giant-brand non-fat dry milk products
-- Malt-O-Meal Co. recalled its "Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal" packets because they contain non-fat dry milk. The product was distributed nationally under a variety of brands, including Cub Foods, Diamond Crystal, Fastco, Flavorite, Foodland, Good 'n Hearty, Hearty Traditions, Hy-Top, IGA, Mom's Best Natural, Megaroons, Millville, Our Family, Richfood, Shop 'n Save and Smart Menu.
The FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently warned consumers not to eat any varieties of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination with e-coli. As of June 25, 2009, the CDC reported that 69 people from 29 states had been infected with the outbreak. Thirty-four had been hospitalized, nine of whom had hemolytic uremic syndrome. Nestle USA recalled its cookie dough products.
Among the most common types of harmful bacteria causing food poisoning are salmonella, e-coli and listeria.
Salmonella infections from food poisoning can often bring serious complications. Many people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours. The effects of food poisoning usually last 4 to 7 days, and fortunately the majority of people recover without treatment.
However, in some people, the effects of food poisoning may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause serious injuries or death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe reaction. In some rare cases, people who have had a salmonella infection develop Reiter’s syndrome, which may also turn into chronic arthritis. Symptoms of Reiter’s syndrome include pain in the joints, painful urination and irritation of the eyes.
Another food poisoning culprit is listeria monocytogenes. Listeria may cause illness in groups such as pregnant women, babies, the elderly and people with compromised immunity. Among these groups, the illness is often severe and life threatening.
E-coli can be found in fruits and vegetables as well as raw milk and contaminated water. E-coli infection is most common in the northern states. Symptoms of e-coli infection can include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. A common complication, particularly in children, is hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is characterized by hemolytic anemia (low red blood cell count), thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) and renal failure (kidney damage).