Food poisoning may carry long term health risks

A report released yesterday by a food safety advocacy group indicates that you should put that rare blue cheese burger down, because it might kill you- or set you up for death, paralysis, impairment of kidney function, lifelong seizures or mental disability down the road.

While the immediate effects of tainted food are easy to discern, embarrassing and you’ve probably experienced them at least once, the long term risks of consuming risky foods is a lesser known issue surrounding food safety. A post on a LA Times health blog indicates that illness related to food is not only easy to overlook or attribute to other causes, but that the vast majority of serious food-borne illness is never reported or recorded. Scarier still is the fact that children are far more vulnerable to these effects- about half of all cases of food-borne illness are reported in children under 15.

Leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts, and berries are the most common culprits, accounting for roughly 40% of all food-borne infections. Major food-borne pathogens include Campylobacter, E coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, and the following well-known food safety rules are recommended by the group Make Our Food Safe for those who may not be familiar:

  • Cook meat thoroughly.
  • Clean work surfaces, cutting boards and bowls thoroughly after using them on uncooked meats or eggs to prevent contamination of other foods.
  • Wash produce before consuming it.
  • When buying milk and juice, make sure they’re pasteurized, and make sure that products made from milk are made with pasteurized milk.
  • Report any food-borne illness to a local health department.