Lecture 8 - Foodborne Hazards and Human Health
When we eat something and we get stomach pain and cramps, we usually say, It must be
something I ate.
There are two major forms of foodborne illnesses. First one is transmissible diseases
caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites (like worms, etc.). The other group are called
nontransmissible diseases (something that cannot be transmitted from person to person).
Some of these diseases that will be discussed in this lecture are: Shellfish-associated toxins
(something that can cause poisoning), Colour additives, Bioengineered foods, Obesity,
Diabetes. These are some of the major ones, but not all are listed here. Cardiovascular
diseases can also be associated with food.
Transmissible Foodborne illnesses
Types of food
We are all aware that in Canada, we have one of the safest food supplies in the world.
However, every year significant number of people get sick as a result of the contaminated
food. Some examples of food that could turn out to be the reason of poisoning include:
Meat (number one cause), milk, dairy products (cheese, in summer ice cream can be very
risky from some sources), unpasteurised fruit and vegetable juices (pasteurised fruits and
food material is not that bad for hour health, as most the bacteria and contaminants are
killed during pasteurization. But, unpasteurized material can be very toxic if they are
contaminated) , raw or undercooked eggs, chicken, tuna, potato and macaroni salads,
cream filled pastries, fresh produce (like some vegetables, spinach can cause food
poisoning or salmonellosis), spices, chocolate (has milk in it), seafood. It is not only up to
the type of the food, it is also up to how we handle and process the food. For example, food
standing too long in the room temperature (maybe it needs to be in the refrigerator right
away), improper cooking, contaminated cutting boards and kitchen tools.
Symptoms of Foodborne illness
All of these symptoms are related with your stomach. These include diarrhoea, abdominal
cramping, fever, vomiting, headache, sometimes blood in the stool. It could also be that
you could have all of these symptoms together. Usually these symptoms occur after one or
two hours of consuming the contaminated food. However, sometimes when viruses or
parasites are the cause of the contamination, then it can happen after a couple of days or
couple of weeks, but not right away. If bacteria are the cause, these symptoms will start
very quickly after you eat the contaminated food. Your symptoms will not last for very
long, usually no longer then a week. In more severe cases, the duration can be longer for 7
10 days. In summary, the symptoms usually last only a day or two sometimes 7- 10 days.
For most people, these diseases are not life threatening if the person does not face the
complications. They can be very severe for young children as they can de-hydrate very
quickly, they cannot drink as they vomit all the time, and they need to see a doctor and get
hydrated a different way. They also can be dangerous for old people as they already have
weak immunity. Also they can be dangerous for people with certain diseases andconditions such as liver disease, iron disorder (people with lower iron in blood can cause
problems if it lasts for a long time), diabetes, and cancer.
Prevention of Foodborne illnesses
The best way is not to wait until we get sick, but to prevent them from happening. This
prevention starts the moment you enter supermarket, the moment we choose our food, and
we need to have a right choice. Prevention of foodborne illness starts with your trip to the
In the supermarket:
Pick up your packaged and canned foods first.
Don't buy food in cans that are bulging or dented or in jars that are cracked or
have loose or bulging lids.
Check the expiration date
If you have weak immune system (if you have higher risk to get
complications), avoid seafood.
Choose eggs that are refrigerated in the store. Open the case and see if there is
any cracked egg, and if yes, do not buy it.
Select frozen foods and perishables such as meat, poultry or fish last. This is
because some people have to travel long distance to get back home to properly store
meat, poultry or fish, and by that time, maybe such foods can melt by that time.
Always put these products in separate plastic bags so that drippings don't contaminate
other foods in your shopping cart.
When you get home, you have to properly store your food. You have to keep certain foods
in refrigerator and some food some food to be frozen. Meats can last about 2 3 days in a
fridge, but after that it has to be frozen. Basically keep food in safe plac