10 Deadly Bacteria That Can Get In Your Food
(And How To Stop Them From Getting
By Terry Nicholls
Thousands of types of bacteria are
naturally present in our environment. Not all bacteria cause disease in
humans (for example, some bacteria are used beneficially in making
cheese and yogurt). However, the prime causes of food-borne illness
include parasites, viruses, and bacteria such as:
1. E. coli O157:H7
2. Campylobacter jejuni
4. Staphylococcus aureus
5. Listeria monocytogenes
6. Clostridium perfringens
7. Vibrio parahaemolyticus
8. Vibrio vulnificus
9. Hepatitis A virus, and
10. Norwalk and Norwalk-like virus
Bacteria that cause disease are
called pathogens. These organisms can become unwelcome guests at the
dinner table. When certain pathogens enter the food supply, they can
cause food-borne illness. They're in a wide range of foods, including
meat, milk and other dairy products, spices, chocolate, seafood, and
even water. Millions of cases of food-borne illness occur each year.
Most cases of food-borne illness
can be prevented. Careless food handling sets the stage for the growth
of disease- causing "bugs." For example, hot or cold foods
left standing too long at room temperature provide an ideal climate for
bacteria to grow. Proper cooking or processing of food destroys
Fresh does not always mean safe.
The organisms that cause food poisoning aren't the ones that cause
spoilage. Wax often coats certain kinds of produce, such as apples and
cucumbers, and may trap pesticides. To remove the wax, wash with very
diluted dish detergent and a soft scrub brush, or peel (the best
nutrients are often in the peel, however).
Foods may be cross contaminated
when cutting boards and kitchen tools that have been used to prepare a
contaminated food, such as raw chicken, aren't cleaned before being used
for another food, such as vegetables.
How Bacteria Get In Food
Bacteria may be present on
products when you buy them. Plastic-wrapped boneless chicken and ground
meat, for example, were once part of live chicken or cattle. Raw meat,
poultry, seafood, and eggs aren't sterile. Neither is fresh produce such
as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons. Foods, including safely
cooked, ready-to-eat foods, can become cross contaminated with bacteria
transferred from raw products, meat juices or other contaminated
products, or from food handlers with poor personal hygiene.
Unpasteurized fruit and vegetable
juices and ciders, foods made with raw or undercooked eggs, chicken,
tuna, potato and macaroni salads, and cream-filled pastries harboring
these pathogens have also been implicated in food-borne illnesses, as
has fresh produce.
Poultry is the food most often
contaminated with disease- causing organisms. It's been estimated that
60 percent or more of raw poultry sold at retail probably carries some
Bacteria such as Listeria
monocytogenes, Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Salmonella
have been found in raw seafood. Oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and
cockles may be contaminated with hepatitis A virus.
If you have a health problem,
especially one that may have impaired your immune system, don't eat raw
shellfish and use only pasteurized milk and cheese, and pasteurized or
concentrated ciders and juices.
Keep It Clean
The cardinal rule of safe food
preparation in the home is: Keep everything clean.
The cleanliness rule applies to
the areas where food is prepared and, most importantly, to the cook.
Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before
starting to prepare a meal and after handling raw meat or poultry. Cover
long hair with a net or scarf, and be sure that any open sores or cuts
on the hands are completely covered. If the sore or cut is infected,
stay out of the kitchen.
Keep your work area clean and
uncluttered. Be sure to wash the countertops with a solution of 1
teaspoon chlorine bleach to about 1 quart of water or with a commercial
kitchen-cleaning agent diluted according to product directions. They're
the most effective at getting rid of bacteria.
Also, be sure to keep dishcloths
and sponges clean because, when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and
may promote their growth. Wash dishcloths and sponges weekly in the
washing machine in hot water.
While you're at it, sanitize the
kitchen sink drain periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of
one teaspoon bleach to one quart of water or a commercial cleaning
agent. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal and, along
with moistness, create an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
Use smooth cutting boards made of
hard maple or plastic and free of cracks and crevices. Avoid boards made
of soft, porous materials. Wash cutting boards with hot water, soap, and
a scrub brush. Then, sanitize them in an automatic dishwasher or by
rinsing with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to about 1 quart
Always wash and sanitize cutting
boards after using them for raw foods, such as seafood or chicken, and
before using them for other foods. Consider using one cutting board only
for foods that will be cooked, such as raw fish, and another only for
ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, fresh fruit, and cooked fish. Visit
The Cutting Board Factory for a great selection of food-safe cutting
Always use clean utensils and wash
them between cutting different foods.
Wash the lids of canned foods
before opening to keep dirt from getting into the food. Also, clean the
blade of the can opener after each use. Food processors and meat
grinders should be taken apart and cleaned as soon as possible after
Don't put cooked meat on an
unwashed plate or platter that has held raw meat.
Wash fresh fruits and vegetables
thoroughly, rinsing in warm water. Don't use soap or other detergents.
If necessary (and appropriate) use a small scrub brush to remove surface
Keep your kitchen clean and
bacteria-free. Clean kitchen surfaces with hot soapy water using
antibacterial sponges and soaps.
The sponges themselves should be
bacteria-free. Microwave them for about a minute to keep them clean and
Keep benches, cutting boards,
knives, pans or other utensils clean.
Copyright (c) Terry Nicholls. All
About The Author
Terry Nicholls is the author of
the eBook "Food Safety: Protecting Your Family From Food
Poisoning". For more tips like these, and to learn more about his
book, visit his website at http://tinyurl.com/3fr2t; email@example.com
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