Diseases caused by contaminated food

The diseases caused by contaminated food mainly produce symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating, but they can vary according to the microorganism that is developing in the food.

It is usually easy to identify when fresh food is spoiled, as it has an altered color, smell, or taste. However, industrialized foods do not always show these changes due to the presence of substances that help to maximize the validity of these products. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the expiration date and not to consume expired foods, as they have a high risk of being spoiled.

Diseases caused by contaminated food

Main diseases caused by contaminated food

The 3 main diseases caused by food contaminated by microorganisms include:

1. Salmonella infection

Foods contaminated by Salmonella can cause symptoms to appear, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever above 38º, muscle pain and headache, between 8 and 48 hours after eating. Know how to recognize the symptoms of Salmonella infection .

Main sources of contamination:  The Salmonella can be found mainly in animals raised on farms, such as chickens, cows and pigs, for example. Thus, the main sources of contamination are food from these animals, especially when eaten raw or undercooked, such as meat, eggs, milk and cheese, for example. In addition, foods stored in very hot temperatures, for example, can also favor the proliferation of this bacterium.

2. Contamination by Bacillus cereus

Foods that are contaminated with Bacillus cereus can lead to the development of symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, severe vomiting and excessive tiredness, up to 16 hours after eating.

Main sources of contamination: This microorganism can be found in several environments, being identified mainly in agricultural and animal products. Thus, the main sources of contamination by Bacillus cereus occur through the consumption of unpasteurized milk, raw meat, as well as fresh or cooked vegetables and vegetables stored at unsuitable temperatures.

3. Escherichia coli infection 

Symptoms caused by food contaminated with E. coli vary according to the type of bacteria found in the food, however, the most common include:

Types of E. coli in foodSymptoms caused by contamination
Enterohemorrhagic E. coliSevere abdominal pain, blood in the urine and watery diarrhea followed by bloody stools, 5 to 48 hours after ingestion.
E. coli enteroinvasivaFever above 38º, watery diarrhea and severe abdominal pain, up to 3 days after eating the food.
E. coli enterotoxigênicaExcessive tiredness, fever between 37º and 38º, abdominal pain and watery diarrhea.
Pathogenic E. coliAbdominal pain, frequent vomiting, headache and constant nausea.

Main contamination sources: The Escherichia coli is a bacterium that can be found naturally in the gut of humans and animals, often being isolated from faeces. Thus, the main form of infection by E. coli happens through contact with food contaminated by this bacterium, either through the consumption of undercooked foods, such as undercooked meat or salad, or prepared with little hygiene. See how to wash fruits and vegetables well. 

Food contaminated by pesticides

The diseases caused by food contaminated by pesticides are mainly cancer, infertility and other changes in glands that produce hormones, such as the thyroid, for example.

Pesticides are found in small amounts in food and accumulate in the body and, therefore, although they do not normally cause disease immediately after eating food, they are involved in the malabsorption of nutrients and degenerative diseases, such as some types cancer, for example.

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When food is contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals, such as mercury or aluminum, it is not possible to see or feel any changes. To find out if these foods are suitable for consumption, it is necessary to know their origin and to know the quality of the water or land where they were grown or raised.

Diseases caused by spoiled food

Diseases caused by spoiled foods happen mainly when they expire, in the case of industrialized products or when the food handler did not wash his hands or utensils properly.

Although in some cases it is not possible to identify whether the food is damaged, as in the case of Salmonella infection , in most cases it is altered in color, smell or taste.

What to do in case of food poisoning

The ingestion of spoiled food or contaminated by microorganisms causes food poisoning, causing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and general malaise that are easily treated by simply hydrating the patient with water, homemade serum, and juices, as well as making light meals with soup and soup.

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