Food Safety Level 2 (VTQ)

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Course Content

Types of Infections

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Bacteria are the most common form of food poisoning but you can also be poisoned in other ways. There are many different groups and these include:

Campylobacter – This causes more problems of food poisoning than any other type of bacteria, its effects can last up to 3 weeks and the affected individual can still carry the bacteria for up to several weeks. 

It’s found mainly in chicken carcases and is transferred by human contact and direct cross-contamination between meats.

Salmonella – This is less common than campylobacter, salmonella is implicated in more food poisoning outbreaks involving more than one household.  It lives in the stomachs of Cows, Pigs, Ducks, Pests, Domestic animals and humans. We as humans are the main cause of the disease with food handlers passing it on in the production and processing methods.

The onset period for salmonella is usually between 12 and 36 hours of when the food is eaten but can be between 6 to 72 hours. A person will suffer from abdominal pains, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache and fever and can last between 1 and 7 days. Death is rare but at-risk groups like the elderly or people with an existing illness, are at a higher risk of death.

Clostridium Perfringens outbreaks generally occur in foods such as stews, casseroles and pies, which have been, prepare in bulk. Clostridium is a particularly heat-resistant bacterium. Clostridium multiples between 10 to 52 degrees C and at an optimum temperature between 43 to 47 degrees C. At 46 degree C it doubles every 10 minutes. Mild re-heating of foods may not destroy these bacteria.

Onset is usually between 8 and 12 hours but can be between 2 to 24 hours and the person would suffer from abdominal pain and diarrhoea, vomiting is rare, these symptoms generally last between 12 and 14 hours.

Escherichia Coli “e.coli” – Lives mainly in the gut of an animal and can be found in minced beef, burgers, milk, yoghurts, cheese and water. Raw vegetables can become infected if animal fertilisers have been used.
The onset is usually 3-4 days and symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea (often bloody), abdominal cramps and kidney failure (especially in children).

Listeria is a bacteria often associated with chilled foods such as cheese, poultry, salads, vegetables, unpasteurized milk, milk, seafood and pre-cooked chilled foods. It’s also present in the soil, water and grass.

The onset period is between 1 and 70 days and will result in flu-like symptoms, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. Listeria is important when regarding pregnant ladies as it can cause a miscarriage.

Moulds are from the same family as bacteria and like bacteria, there are good and harmful moulds. Some cheeses are produced with mould, which is completely harmless. Moulds can be different colours, can grow on most foods even if they are alkaline, acid, high in salt or sugar, or moist or dry.

Apart from causing food poisoning, some moulds have a link to other illness in humans. Some moulds produce toxins, which causes illness and death, however, it’s rare.

Moulds grow best in temperatures of 20-30 degrees C but they can grow in other temperatures and they have been found to even grow at minus 10 degrees C. If there are high temperatures and fluctuating temperatures the growth is accelerated of moulds

Moulds are often killed in cooking but the food can be contaminated again with poor storage, so make sure food is stored in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Viruses grow in cells not on food and they are much smaller than bacteria and can only be viewed using an electron microscope. Contamination can occur when not properly washing hands after using the toilet or from infections from sewage or other water problems. Viruses can cause gastroenteritis and hepatitis A.

Norovirus only multiplies within the body and the onset period is usually between 24 and 48 hours and symptoms include vomiting which is often projectile, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever.

Typhoid can be a major problem, the carriers involved are usually sewage and manure and water. The onset period is usually between 8 and 14 days and typical symptoms include fever, nausea, rash, diarrhoea, headache, slow pulse and constipation.