Lesson 1f - What are the most common foodborne pathogens?

This alphabetical listing of some pathogens describes their characteristics.

Bacillus cereus

Illness: Bacillus cereus gastroenteritis
Incubation period: 1/2 hour
Symptoms: Watery diarrhea abdominal cramps and pain
Foods Implicated: Cooked rice, corn and potatoes
Steps for prevention: Avoid temperature abuse, cook and hold food at proper temperatures; cool properly

Clostridum botulinum

Illness: Botulism, caused by toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria
Incubation period: 12 to 36 hours
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,fatigue, headache, dry mouth, double vision, muscle paralysis, respiratory failure
Foods Implicated: Low-acid, improperly canned foods, temperature abused vegetables, meats, sausage, fish
Steps for prevention: Properly preserve foods following recommended procedures; cook foods thoroughly

Clostridium perfringens

Illness:  Clostridium perfingens gastroenteritis is a toxin mediated bacterial infection
Incubation period:  8 to 24 hours
Symptoms: Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, chills
Foods Implicated: Meat, poultry, and other foods held for serving at warm, but not hot, temperatures
Steps for prevention:  Cool foods rapidly after cooking; hold hot foods above 140 degrees F

Campylobacter jejuni  

Illness: Campylobacteriosis is bacterial infection, which can be caused by low numbers of Campylobacter bacteria
Incubation period:  One to seven days
Symptoms:  Nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headache - varying in severity
Foods Implicated: Poultry and contaminated water
Steps for prevention: Cook foods properly; prevent cross-contamination

Cryptosporidium parvum  

Illness: Cryptosporidiosis, which is a parasitic infection
Incubation period:   Two to ten days
Symptoms:  Watery diarrhea accompanied by mild stomach cramping, nausea, loss of appetite. Symptoms may last 10 to 15 days
Foods Implicated: Contaminated water and produce
Steps for prevention: Wash hands after using the toilet; avoid water that may be contaminated

Escherichia coli 0157:H7 

Illness: Hemorrhagic colitis, an infection which can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome
Incubation period: Two to four days
Symptoms: Hemorrhagic colitis; hemolytic uremic syndrome
Foods Implicated: Raw and undercooked ground beef, raw milk, alfalfa sprouts, unpasteurized fruit juices, dry-cured salami, lettuce, game meat, and cheese curds.
Steps for prevention: Thoroughly cook meat; avoid cross-contamination; only use pasteurized fruit juices. Exclude infected food handlers.

Hepatitis A   

Illness:  Hepatitis A which is a viral infection
Incubation period: Approximately 28 days (range 15 – 50 days)
Symptoms: Mild fever, general weakness, nausea, abdominal pain; can develop into jaundice
Foods Implicated: Ready-to-eat foods, shellfish, fresh green onions, contaminated water
Steps for prevention: Wash hands properly at appropriate time. Avoid bare hand contact with food; purchase shellfish from reputable supplier; exclude employees diagnosed with Hepatitis A from work

Listeria monocytogenes   

Illness: Listeriosis, a serious bacterial infection caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes
Incubation period: Two days to three weeks
Symptoms:   Meningitis, sepsticemia, miscarriage
Foods Implicated: Vegetables, unpasterized milk and dairy foods, raw meat, and ready-to-eat foods including deli meats
Steps for prevention: Purchase pasteurized milk and other dairy foods, cook foods properly, avoid cross- contamination; use sanitary practices

Norwalk virus  

Illness: Infection with Norwalk virus
Incubation period: 12 to 48 hours
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps
Foods Implicated:  Raw oysters/shellfish, contaminated water and ice, ready-to-eat foods.
Steps for prevention:  Adequate treatment and disposal of sewage; restriction of infected food handlers from working with food until they no longer shed virus

Salmonella sp.  

Illness: Salmonellosis is an intestinal infection caused by Salmonella  bacteria
Incubation period:   12 to 72 hours
Symptoms: Nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, chills, prostration
Foods Implicated: Meat, poultry, fresh shell eggs or dairy products
Steps for prevention: Cook thoroughly, avoid cross-contamination, exclude infected food handlers.

Staphylococcus aureus  

Illness:  Staphylococcal gastroenteritis is a gastrointestinal illness caused by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Incubation period: One to six hours
Symptoms: Severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping
Foods Implicated: Custard or cream-filled baked goods, ham, poultry, eggs, potato salad, cream sauces, sandwich fillings
Steps for prevention: Refrigerate foods, use safe food handling practices; restrict food handlers with open cuts and sores.

Vibrio bacteria

Illness: Vibrio gastroenteritis which is a bacterial infection caused by Vibrioparahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulniticus
Symptoms: Diarrhea, abdominal cramps; nausea and vomiting; fever and chills
Foods Implicated: Raw or partially cooked oysters
Steps for prevention: Purchase oysters from approved, reputable supplier; cook to 145 degrees F internal temperature

Yersinia enterocolitica

Illness: Yersiniosis is an infectious disease caused by the Yersinia bacteria
Incubation period:  1 to 3 days
Symptoms: Enterocolitis, may mimic acute appendicitis
Foods Implicated:  Raw milk, chocolate milk, water, pork, other raw meats
Steps for prevention: Purchase pasteurized milk; cook foods throroughly; no cross-contamination
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