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Common Factors Contributing To Food Poisoning

1387 words - 6 pages

Common Factors Contributing to Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be defined as:

“An acute (arising suddenly and of short duration) gastroenteritis
caused by the ingestion of food.” –

Food poisoning is characterized by the following symptoms:

· Abdominal Pain

· Diarrhoea

· With or without vomiting

· With or without fever

Major problems with food poisoning occur in the very young, the very
elderly and those with otherwise reduced immunological defences. The
major problem is with dehydration and loss of electrolytes and is a
main cause of infant and child mortality in the developing world.

Some authors exclude food-borne illness that are caused by primary
human pathogens (that are adapted to the human host) from their
definition of food poisoning, examples include Salmonella Typhoid and
Dysentery caused by Shigella Dysenteriae. The term ‘food poisoning’ is
reserved for those diseases produced by bacterial exotoxins, for
example this would include Staphylococcus Aureus and Clostridium
Perfringens but would exclude Salmonella. – (Garbutt 1997)

Campylobacter Jejuni is the most common cause of food poisoning. It
is a gram-negative organism with an incubation period commonly of 3-5


Live tissue in animals is essentially sterile with but it is during
food preparation that it can become contaminated at any stage of the
process. The most critical stages are skinning and evisceration as it
is the hide and the intestines that contain the animal’s micro-flora
along with organisms present in faeces and soil. Abattoir hygiene
must be kept to a very high standard to prevent contamination from
faecal matter and other carcasses. E-Coli is the most commonly
associated organism although this causes a food borne infection which
depending on the text book is sometimes classes separately from food
poisoning. Raw or undercooked beef and minced beef are cited as the
main sources of human infection.


Temperature of both raw and cooked food must be regularly checked to
prevent microbial growth. Food that is being reheated must be
reheated to a temperature of approx 70oC to ensure any organisms
growing are destroyed prior to consumption. Undercooking is another
common cause of food poisoning, especially with poultry. The most
common food poisoning organism Campylobacter Jejuni is most often
associated with undercooked chicken. Birds have been recorded with
heavy contamination – 2.4x107 has been recorded (Garbutt 1997)


Once food is cooked and all organisms have been removed it is possible
that the food may be re-contaminated from raw products. In any place
food is prepared there is a strict colour coding for raw and cooked
meat to ensure cross contamination is...

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