The Causes of Food Poisoning

12 September, 2020
Breaking the cold chain is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. However, it's not the only one. Here we'll tell you about some others.
 

Did you know that a large part of non-transmittable sicknesses around the world is made up of cases of food poisoning? Although it may seem hard to believe, the situation is much more common than it seems. Food poisoning not only creates acute problems but can also affect the composition of your microbiome in the long term.

It’s important, therefore, to know about the different causes of food poisoning so that you can take precautions and try to avoid them. Here, we’ll show you some of the most common risk factors and a series of solutions for each one.

Food poisoning caused by poor storage

Everyone wants to increase the lifespan of their foods, which leads us all to experiment with different forms of storage. The most common of all is freezing. 

By putting a product under extremely low temperatures, you deactivate the enzymes that make it up and also the microorganisms that can live on it. However, keeping the “cold chain” intact is crucial for preventing the multiplication of pathogens. This was proved in a study published by the Journal of Food Protection.

To guarantee the healthiness of a product, it’s absolutely necessary that the unfreezing process is carried out adequately. By removing a product from the freezer and leaving it at room temperature, you’re creating a perfect environment for the pathogens inside the product to multiply themselves. That’s why it’s always best to keep your food products in the freezer until the precise moment when you’re ready to cook them.

 
Washing fruit

Incomplete cooking increases your risk

Another risk factor for food poisoning is incomplete cooking. This is especially true for ground beef and processed meats. In these cases, it’s essential to ensure that the internal temperature of the meat reaches a safe point. 

If your meat doesn’t reach a safe internal temperature, the pathogenic bacteria inside will survive and can colonize your intestinal tract. Experts are certain that incomplete cooking is one of the main causes of food poisoning or Clostridium botulinum.

The food industry has found a possible solution to reduce the levels of food poisoning cases from meat consumption. It consists of adding nitrates and nitrites to the food, with antimicrobial activity. This solution has been backed up by science, but it can still carry the risk of developing illnesses in the long term.

Be careful with cross-contamination

If you want to reduce your risk of food poisoning, it’s absolutely necessary to pay attention to potential cross contaminations. This means taking steps as simple as not using the same utensil to cut two different, susceptible products. By “crossing” the two items on your utensil, you could be practicing something dangerous.

 

The best option is to always conscientiously wash your knives and culinary utensils between each use, or have several different options available for you while you’re cooking. This will help you avoid using the same utensil for several different foods.

In this way, you can prevent contamination that can lead to bacterial growth. It can also help to limit the presence of allergens on your foods that can be dangerous for certain people. Celiacs, for example, are especially sensitive to these types of contaminations.

Nausea and vomiting

Take precautions to reduce your risk of food poisoning

As we’ve seen, it’s necessary to take certain precautions when you’re preparing your meals. In addition to keeping the “cold chain” intact and adequately defrosting your foods, it’s also necessary to prevent cross contaminations.

Suffering from food poisoning is an uncomfortable phenomenon. But it’s not just the short-term effects that you should worry about. The pathogenic bacteria that colonize your intestinal tract can alter the health of your gut microbiome. This microbiome is important for your health, and when it’s normal function is altered, this imbalance can affect your overall health.

 

We have to remember that our microbiome is considered an independent organ. Anything that causes a deterioration in its makeup is linked to problems with the metabolism and stress, and can also increase systemic inflammation.

This is why it’s so important to be careful when you’re preparing meals. If you notice bad odors, throw away the product. If you’re doubtful that a product has been properly stored, don’t use it.

In these cases, it’s always better to prevent than to treat. Food poisoning is uncomfortable in the short term but can cause other health problems in the long term.

 
  • Golden MC., Wanless BJ., David JRD., Kottapalli B., et al., Effect of cultured celery juice, temperature, and product composition on the inhibition of proteolytic clostridium botulinum toxin production. J Food Prot, 2017. 80 (8): 1259-1265.
  • Majou D., Christieans S., Mechanisms of the bactericidal effects of nitrate and nitrite in cured meats. Meat Sci, 2018. 145: 273-284.