Outbreak- the sudden or violent start of something unwelcome
Epidemic- a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time
Pandemic- a disease prevalent over a whole country or the world.
Vector- an organism, typically a biting insect or tick, which transmits a disease or parasite from one animal or plant to another.
Fomite- any object or substance capable of carrying infectious organisms
Zoonosis- a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals.
The majority of these cases are mild and cause symptoms for only a day or two. Some cases are more serious, and can lead to hospitalization or even death. The most severe cases tend to occur in the very old, the very young, those who have an illness already that reduces their immune system function, and in healthy people exposed to a very high dose of an organism.
Causes of Food Borne Illness
Other pathogenic (tiny living organisms) agents
Foods Most Associated with Food Borne Illness
Raw meat and poultry
Unpasteurized (not sanitized) milk
Raw fruits and vegetables (usually if unwashed)
Unpasteurized fruit juice
Food Processing Concerns
Foods that mingle the products of several individual animals
A pathogen in one animal can contaminate a whole batch of food
A single hamburger may contain meat from hundreds of animals
A glass of raw milk may contain milk from hundreds of cows
A broiler chicken carcass can be exposed to the drippings and juices of many thousands of other birds that went through the same cold water tank after slaughter.
Washing fruits and vegetables can decrease but not eliminate contamination
Processing foods under less than sanitary conditions can cause outbreaks
Raw sprouts that are eaten without cooking may contain growing microbes
Storage and transport methods for food could lead to an outbreak
More Common in Food Borne Illness: Gastrointestinal (diseases related to the stomach)
Cooking meat and poultry to USDA recommended safe minimum temperatures makes them safe to eat:
• Beef, veal, lamb: steaks & roasts - 145°F
• Beef, veal, lamb: ground - 160°F
• Fish - 145°F
• Egg dishes - 160°F
• Pork - 160°F
• Turkey, chicken & duck: whole, pieces & ground - 165°F
Reducing the Risk of Foodborne Illness
Cook meat, poultry, and eggs thoroughly. Meat and poultry shouldn’t be rinsed.
Separate – raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing foods.
Chill – refrigerate leftovers promptly and defrost foods properly
Clean – wash hands, food contact surfaces, produce
Avoid – Raw (unpasteurized) milk/juice, raw or undercooked eggs/meat/poultry
Report – suspected food borne illnesses to the local health department
The following information was obtained from the CDC’s frequently asked questions:
1. What are foodborne disease outbreaks and why do they occur?
An outbreak of foodborne illness occurs when a group of people consume the same contaminated food and two or more of them come down with the same illness. It may be a group that ate a meal together somewhere, or it may be a group of people who do not know each other at all, but who all happened to buy and eat the same contaminated item from a grocery store or restaurant. For an outbreak to occur, something must have happened to contaminate a batch of food that was eaten by the group of people.
Often, a combination of events contributes to the outbreak. A contaminated food may be left out a room temperature for many hours, allowing the bacteria to multiply to high numbers, and then be insufficiently cooked to kill the bacteria.
2. How are Foodborne Illnesses diagnosed?
The infection is usually diagnosed by specific laboratory tests that identify the causative organism. Bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli O157 are found by culturing stool samples in the laboratory and identifying the bacteria that grow