Monthly Archives: January 2011

Week 3- Common Foodborne Diseases: E.coli

E.coli infection occurs when a person is exposed to contaminated food, beverages, water, animals or person to person contact.  The first sign of E.coli infection is sudden onset of abdominal pain and severe cramps, followed within 24-hours with diarrhea. The onset is typically three to four days after exposure to the bacteria. Most of these infections clear up on their own without treatment, but in some cases severe blood and kidney problems may occur 2 to 14 days after the onset of symptoms.  Sometimes long-term disability or death in some children and older adults may occur.  (


  • Eating under cooked ground beef, due to when they are slaughtered and processed, E.coli bacteria in their intestines can get on the meat.  Ground beef often has bacteria spread throughout the mixture, not just on the surfaces, such as other meat where bacteria can be destroyed upon high temperature cooking.  I am sure many people remember the 1993 Jack in the Box restaurant E.coli outbreak, in the Seattle area, where 144 were hospitalized, which ground beef was the culprit.
  • Unpasteurized milk. E.coli bacteria on the cow’s udder or on milking equipment can get into the raw milk.
  • Fresh produce. Runoff from cattle farms can contaminate fields where fresh produce is grown. Spinach and lettuce are the most commonly effected.
  • Contaminated water. Human and animal feces may pollute ground and surface water, including streams, rivers, lakes and water used to irrigate crops.   Some people have been affected by swimming in pools and lakes contaminated by feces.  I remember last summer, in the news; several beaches had been closed, due to this issue.
  • Lastly, person to person contact.  This occurs especially when adults and children don’t wash their hands properly.


  • Practice good personal hygiene.  E.coli bacteria is very hardy (e.g., can survive on surfaces for weeks).  Washing your hands well and using sanitizers when hand washing is not available is important. Not just for our own family, but also anyone that deals with food supply chain.  Always be aware of any restaurants that have been given citations or warnings regarding unclean practices, by contacting your local health department. 
  • Avoid cross contamination when preparing and cooking foods, especially beef. Be very aware of surface contact, such as cutting boards and cooking utensils.
  • Do not allow children to share bath water with anyone that has signs of diarrhea or “stomach flu”.  Also, keep toddlers still in diapers out of pools.
  • Remember achieving a brown color when cooking hamburgers does not guarantee that E.coli bacteria are killed.  Especially patties that have been frozen.  Verify a core temperature of 160 degrees F for at least 15 seconds.
  • Avoid drinking (and even playing in) any non-chlorinated water.  An added risk is if the water is close to or downstream of any livestock.


Congress enacts statutes designed to ensure the safety of the food supply.  The principal federal agencies are; USDA, FSIS, FDA, CDC, and DHHS. (

Week 2- Common Foodborne Diseases: Salmonella

This week’s foodborne illness blog is: Salmonella, which is called Salmonellosis.  Every year approximately 40,000 cases are reported in the U.S., but the actual number is much higher, due to many infections not being reported.  Salmonellosis is most common in the summer months than winter. 

Some of the causes are:

  • Food that becomes contaminated during processing or food handling, by unwashed hands of an infected food handler. 
  • Salmonella is found in the feces of some pets.  You become infected if you do not wash your hands well with soap and water.
  • Reptiles, baby chicks and ducklings, and small rodents (such as hamsters) are likely to carry salmonella.  Again, washing your hands with soap and water prevents infection.
  • Beef, poultry, and eggs are the most common food items that are infected with Salmonella. But vegetables can also be contaminated.  Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.

How can you prevent Salmonella poisoning:

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs.
  • Use a meat thermometer when cooking meats; this ensures it has been cooked to a safe range.
  • Wash or peel produce prior to eating.
  • Avoid raw or unpasteurized dairy items.
  • Avoid cross contamination of foods by thoroughly washing hands, cutting boards, counter tops, knives, and any other utensil or surface area that came in contact with uncooked food.
  • In food processing plants following GMP’s, thorough environmental programs and finished goods microbiological testing helps ensure safe food is going to consumers.
  • If you are infected do not prepare food for others.

Symptoms are; diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping. They develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.  

 Information gathered from

New Year-New Food Safety Law

On January 4, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act” (aka S.510) into law. A recent article on by Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, states that the bill has several immediate effects, including giving the FDA the right to issue recalls, along with others that are slated to be developed over the coming years. However the implementations come across, the Modernization Act will be of central focus in the coming years for all food service industry interests.

Along with numerous facets of the Act, Nelson-Jameson is here to help you meet all of your food safety needs in terms of the Act’s focus on increased inspections and preventative food safety controls. You can be assured that Nelson-Jameson will continue to act as your one-stop supply source as 2011 brings a new vision of food safety into the mix.

For further information on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, check out:

Common Foodborne Diseases and How They Can Effect You

Recently, it was stated in several news reports that, annually, 1 out of 6 Americans become ill from foodborne diseases, which equates to 48 million people.  Out of 48 million people sickened, 3000 will result in death (generally people with weakened immune systems, the very young or elderly).  Salmonella accounts for 28 percent of the deaths and 35 percent of hospitalizations.   Approximately, 90 percent of estimated illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths were due to; Salmonella, norovirus, toxoplasma, E.coli O157, Listeria, Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens. Within the next few weeks on our blog each individually listed cause of foodborne illnesses will be described.  This week’s blog will be on Norovirus, which most people have experienced at one time or another within their lifetime.

Norovirus was formerly called Norwalk agent and most commonly called the “stomach flu” (a broad name that refers to gastric inflammation caused by a range of viruses and bacteria).  This causes about 90 percent of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world and causes a high percentage of foodborne outbreaks within the US.  The viruses are transmitted by faecally contaminated food or water, person-to-person contact (that is why hand washing is SO important), and via aerosolization of the virus, which causes the contamination of surfaces (another reason to wash your hands).  Interestingly, people with blood type O are more often infected, while blood types B and AB can confer partial protection against symptomatic infection. 

Outbreaks of the norovirus infection often occurs in closed or semi-closed communities, such as long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools, cruise ships and dormitories.  These infections spread rapidly either by person-to-person contact or through contaminated food.  Many norovirus outbreaks have been traced to food that was handled by one infected person.

How to inactivate? Either sufficient heating or by cleaning with chlorine-based disinfectants.

Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and in some cases loss of taste, low grade fever, muscle aches and headaches may also occur.

Incubation period: Symptoms may appear 1 to 2 days after exposure. The principal symptom, gastroenteritis, develops between 24 and 48 hours after exposure and last for 24-60 hours.


 Next week Salmonella will be the topic.