Bad Bug Book

The following is a condensed version of FDA's "Bad Bug Book". For more details on any of the organisms listed, or to find out about other organisms, you may want to go to FDA's Bad Bug Book at: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/intro.html.

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  BACTERIA

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Salmonella

Foods Associated with Salmonella: Raw poultry products, eggs, pork, processed meats. Less commonly, Salmonella has been found to be associated with raw fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts.
Characteristics of Illness: Fever, cramps, diarrhea and sometimes vomiting.
Onset: Illness may begin between 7 hrs to 3 days after eating contaminated food.
Duration: Illness may last 2-3 days.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Avoid cross-contamination of ready-to-eat foods with raw meats or their juices.
  • Thoroughly cook meat and poultry.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly and never eat runny yolks or raw eggs.
  • Always refrigerate processed meat products.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
 
Campylobacter

  Foods Associated with Campylobacter: Raw chicken and raw milk
Characteristics of Illness: Diarrhea, often associated with fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache and muscle pain. Illness can appear very similar to Salmonellosis.
Onset: Illness may begin between 2-5 days after eating contaminated food.
Duration: Illness may last 7-10 days.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Avoid cross-contamination of ready-to-eat foods with raw meats or their juices.
  • Cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
  • Never drink raw milk.
 
Staphylococcus aureus

  Foods Associated with Staphylococcus aureus: This bacteria has been associated with a wide range of foods, including meat and meat products, poultry and egg products, salads such as egg, tuna, potato and macaroni, cream-filled bakery products and pies, sandwich fillings and milk and dairy products. In general, Staph poisoning often occurs when a food has been handled a great deal (such as the chopping and handling involved in making a salad or sandwich) and is then left at temperatures above refrigeration which allow the bacteria to multiply and produce toxin.
Characteristics of Illness: Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Onset: Illness may begin within 3-8 hrs. after eating contaminated food.
Duration: Illness usually lasts about 2 days.
 
Prevention of Illness:
  • Always wash hands well when preparing foods.
  • Keep foods refrigerated.
 
Listeria monocytogenes

  Foods Associated with Listeria monocytogenes: Raw milk, raw meats and raw vegetables. Ice cream, soft-ripened cheeses, smoked fish, lunch meats, hot dogs and refrigerated salad-type products. This organism is unique in that it is able to grow even at refrigerated temperatures and so, while refrigeration of foods will slow the growth of Listeria, it will not stop it completely.
Characteristics of Illness: In healthy individuals this organism may result in diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. However, in immunocompromised individuals (the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, those with AIDS or undergoing cancer treatment) Listeriosis may first appear as mild flu-like symptoms, but may then be followed by septicemia, meningitis, encephalitis and spontaneous abortion or stillbirth in pregnant women.
Onset: Illness may occur anywhere from 12 hrs to a few weeks after contaminated food is consumed.
Duration: In otherwise healthy individuals, mild symptoms may disappear in a day or two, but medical attention is required for immunosuppressed individuals who develop the above mentioned complications.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water.
  • Keep foods refrigerated to slow the growth of Listeria, if it is present.
  • Immunocompromised individuals should try to avoid eating implicated foods, such as soft-ripened cheeses or lunchmeat products.
 
E. coli O157:H7

 

Foods Associated with E.coli O157:H7: Undercooked raw ground beef, unpasteurized apple cider, raw milk and raw produce.

Characteristics of Illness: Severe cramping and diarrhea which is initially watery but becomes grossly bloody. Young children are especially susceptible and in some cases, complications which lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) may occur. HUS may lead to permanent loss of kidney failure, or fatality occurs in up to 15% of HUS cases.
Onset: Illness may occur anywhere between 1 to 10 days after eating contaminated food, but usually occurs between 3 to 4 days.
  Prevention of Illness:
  • Cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160F.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly with running water.
  • Do not drink unpasteurized milk.
  • Do not drink unpasteurized apple cider unless it is well refrigerated.
 
Clostridium botulinum

Foods Associated with Clostridium botulinum: Improperly processed home canned foods. Improperly processed or damaged canned or aseptically processed foods. Botulism is extremely rare but when it does occur it is often (>65% cases) fatal. Infant botulism may occur when infants ingest honey containing C. botulinum spores which then colonize and produce toxin in their intestines.
Characteristics of Illness: Symptoms include double vision, vertigo, inability to swallow, speech difficulty and progressive respiratory paralysis. Nausea may also be present initially.
Onset: Symptoms may begin within 18 hrs to 2 days of ingesting the toxin.
Duration: Greater than 65% of cases are fatal. In non-fatal botulism poisoning, recovery may take weeks to years, depending upon the severity of the poisoning.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Follow appropriate techniques when home canning.
  • Do not eat food from swollen, leaking or severly damaged cans.
  • Keep foods which are supposed to be refrigerated below 40o F.
  • Do not feed honey to infants under 1 year old.
 
Clostridium perfringens

Foods Associated with Clostridium perfringens: Meat and/or gravy dishes are most often associated with this type of foodborne illness. Generally C. perfringens poisoning occurs when such meat dishes are not cooked to high enough temperatures and then are allowed to sit out at room temperature for serving for an extended period of time.
Characteristics of Illness: Abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
Onset: Illness may begin between 8 to 22 hrs after ingesting contaminated food.
Duration: Illness may last 1-2 days.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Keep hot foods hot (>140F) or refrigerate them rapidly in shallow containers (<40F) if they will not be served immediately.
 
Bacillus cereus

Foods Associated with Bacillus cereus: Rice and grain products, dairy products such as milk, cream, custards and dried milk.
Characteristics of Illness: Bacillus cereus may cause two different types of illness. The first is know as the Diarrheal illness, which results in diarrhea and abdominal cramps occurring within 6 to 15 hrs of eating contaminated food. This illness may persist up to about 24 hours and resembles Clostridium perfringens food poisoning. The second type of illness caused by Bacillus cereus is know as the Emetic illness and results in nausea and vomiting within 3-6 hours of eating contaminated food. This illness also lasts about 24 hrs and it tends to resemble Staphylococcal food poisoning.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Keep hot foods hot (>140F) and keep cold foods cold (<40F)!
 
Vibrio paraheamolyticus

Foods Associated with Vibrio paraheamolyticus: Seafoods, especially shellfish.
Characteristics of Illness: Diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea.
Onset: Illness may occur within 1 to 4 days after eating contaminated food.
Duration: Illness may last for 2 to 3 days.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Keep seafood well refrigerated.
  • Avoid eating raw shellfish.
 
Shigella

  Foods Associated with Shigella: Salads, raw produce, milk and dairy products. Contamination of foods with this bacteria is most commonly because of:
  1. unsanitary handling of food by the food handlers or
  2. contaminated water.
Characteristics of Illness: Severe watery diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea, fever and cramping.
Onset: Illness may begin between 12 hrs and 2 days after consuming contaminated food or water.
Prevention of Illness:
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water.
  • Always wash hands well when preparing foods.
 

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