Food Borne Illnesses

Understanding and Preventing Food Borne Illness

How Prevalent is “Food Poisoning”?

The CDC estimates that each year:

  • Roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick
  • 128,000 are hospitalized
  • 3,000 die of foodborne diseases



Learning About Food Borne Illness

  • Causes
  • Pathogenesis
  • Symptoms
  • Treatment
  • Common Pathogens
    • Listeria
    • Norovirus
    • Campylobacter
    • E. Coli
    • Salmonella
  • Prevention
  • Overview








Top 10 Riskiest Foods

riskiest foods


Means of Transmission

Why is Food Borne Illness so Common?






Generalized Pathogenesis












When Should you See a Doctor?

Symptoms that point to serious infection are:
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion or changes in alertness
  • Loss of balance
  • Convulsions





Common and Deadly Foodborne Pathogens:
U.S. Estimates for Known Pathogens in 2011
(38.4 Million Other Cases of Illness are due to Unidentified Agents)







  • Gram-positive, non-spore-forming, catalase-positive rod bacteria.
  • Hardy and Capable of growth at a wide range of temperatures, from 33.8-113°F.
  • Opportunistic pathogen: Most prevalent in the elderly, pregnant mothers, and AIDS patients.
  • Low infectivity, 9.7 cases per million population
  • Mortality rate of about 20-30%. (Salmonella has a mortality rate estimated at less than 1%).
  • Does NOT pass person-to-person


Top Causes

top causes

2011 Colorado Listeria Outbreak

  • 146 Infected
  • 30 Deaths
  • 1 Miscarriage

From the CDC's October 25, 2011, UPDATE on the Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak, here is a national picture of where the outbreak has spread (28 states).









  • Also know as human calicivirus
  • Single-stranded RNA viruses
  • Highly contagious; outbreaks are common due to the ease of transmission.
  • CDC estimates that >21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis each year.
  • >50% of all foodborne outbreaks can be attributed to noroviruses.

Outbreaks laboratory-confirmed by CDC, by setting and genotype

United States, 1994--2006

norovirus causes


Top Causes of Norovirus



Norovirus is Highly Contagious

Following the timeline of this virus is helpful in preventing outbreaks:








  • "Twisted Bacteria"
  • Most commonly found in birds
  • Infections are isolated and sporadic, and don't spread easily.
  • About 13 of 100,000 people each year are diagnosed
  • In 2005, Campylobacter was present on 47% of raw chicken breasts tested through the FDA-NARMS Retail Food program
  • Bloody diarrhea is characteristic of Campylobacter


Top Causes






E. coli O157:H7

e. coli

  • Inhabitant of the large intestine, producing vitamin K and preventing the establishment of pathogenic bacteria within the intestine
  • Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in humans
  • E coli is the leading cause UTI
  • When traveling to 3rd world countries:
    • Don't use ice or drink tap water.
    • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables, except those with skin that you peel yourself.
  • Don't take diarrhea medicine or antibiotics if diarrhea is bloody.
    • It can slow the digestion process, allowing more time for your body to absorb the poisons made by the E. coli.







  • Rod-shaped bacteria
  • Does not usually affect the taste, smell, or appearance of the food.
  • Reptiles and birds are more likely to harbor Salmonella, even if they're healthy.


The CDC estimated 1.4 million cases and more than 400 deaths annually in the US.

These contaminated ingredients caused 1/3 of the Salmonella outbreaks.

†Other includes: Sprouts, leafy greens, roots, fish, grains-beans, shellfish, oil-sugar, and dairy.

salmonella causes





Preventing Food Borne Illness

  • Reducing foodborne illness by just 10% would keep 5 million Americans from getting sick each year







  • Print out this overview of some of the most common food borne illness, and keep it handy in case you think you may be infected in the future.