Foodborne Illness Can Be Awful, But Recalls Help

If you’ve ever been hit by a foodborne illness – usually called food poisoning – it’s probably an experience you’ll never forget.

Foodborne illness is something you get by eating contaminated food, says Nurse Practitioner Kara Hoover, of Premier Family Care of Mason, part of Premier Physician Network. It could be bacteria, a virus, parasites, or even chemicals or toxins that have contaminated food to cause you to get sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the top five germs that cause foodborne illnesses in the U.S. are:

Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are usually the first thing you’ll notice when you have a foodborne illness. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping are all classic symptoms.

The GI issues can lead to dehydration, which can cause you to be light-headed, fatigued, and can cause your blood pressure to drop. It will also likely lead to a loss of appetite.

If you visit your health care provider with a foodborne illness, they’ll diagnose you after taking a detailed history including what you ate, your recent travel, any sickness you know of in places you were, and also probably a physical and family history, Hoover says.

Food Recalls

When there’s a known foodborne illness or another kind of issue with a food product, manufacturers or distributors are usually the ones who take the first steps to get the food off the shelves.

In some cases, however, the Food and Drug Administration steps in and requests a recall, Hoover says.

When you do hear about a food recall, your first step should be to avoid eating that specific food product.

“Dispose of the product so that other people and animals cannot eat it,” Hoover says. You can check labels to match product information, and most products can be returned after a recall.

Other than being watchful of food recalls, you can help yourself by being cautious of how meat, seafood, and eggs are cooked. You can also make sure to wash fruits and vegetables before you cook with them and eat them, and wash hands before preparing and eating food.

To learn more about foodborne illnesses, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider.