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foodborne illness

What people think of as “stomach flu” is typically food poisoning. Hand-washing is critical after handling raw meat and fish. For example, the skin of nine out of ten chickens has been found to be contaminated with fecal matter. C. diff, the superbug associated with pseudomembraneous colitis and toxic megacolon, was found in 42% of U.S. retail meat in one study. The superbug MRSA also affects the U.S. meat supply (see also here). Nearly half of retail meat for sale in the United States was found contaminated with staph in general. Pork tapeworms infecting one’s brain is the leading cause of adult-onset epilepsy.

Extra-intestinal E. coli, found in almost half of all retail poultry samples tested, may cause urinary tract infections. Viruses from poultry may even be associated with neurological diseases, and bacteria from poultry have been associated with paralysis (see also here). The hepatitis E virus is carried in the livers and bloodstreams of pigs and is transmitted through feces and by eating undercooked pork.

There are a number of heat-stable toxins in fish that can cause food poisoning (some of which may even be sexually transmitted). We can get cholera from raw oysters; tapeworms, brainworms, and eyeworms from sushi, and a rare form of amnesia. Even placing children in the basket of a shopping cart with raw meat could pose a danger.

Several brands of bottled water have shown bacterial contamination. Salmonella has been found in alfalfa sprouts; broccoli sprouts are safer. Eggs pose the greatest Salmonella risk, though, sickening more than 100,000 Americans every year. Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine, but eating kelp (and sausages containing thyroid glands) can lead to iodine-induced thyrotoxicosis.

See also the related blog posts: E. coli O145 Ban Opposed by Meat Industry, Cantaloupe and Listeria: an estimated 85% of cases are from deli meats, not melons

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Watch videos about foodborne illness

  • Chronic Headaches and Pork Tapeworms
    Chronic Headaches and Pork Tapeworms
    Chronic headaches such as migraines or “tension” headache symptoms may be a sign of pork tapeworms in the brain.
  • Cayenne Pepper for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Indigestion
    Cayenne Pepper for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Indigestion
    Chronic red pepper powder ingestion may be an effective treatment for IBS and chronic dyspepsia (indigestion), both of which can arise from food poisoning.
  • More Than an Apple a Day: Combating Common Diseases
    More Than an Apple a Day: Combating Common Diseases
    Dr. Greger has scoured the world's scholarly literature on clinical nutrition and developed this brand-new live presentation on the latest in cutting-edge research on how a healthy diet can affect...
  • Avoiding Chicken To Avoid Bladder Infections
    Avoiding Chicken To Avoid Bladder Infections
    Handling chicken can lead to the colonization of one's colon with antibiotic resistant E. coli that may result in bladder infections in women.
  • Preventing and Treating Diarrhea with Probiotics
    Preventing and Treating Diarrhea with Probiotics
    Probiotics may help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea and appear to speed recovery from acute gastroenteritis.
  • Salmonella in Chicken & Turkey: Deadly But Not Illegal
    Salmonella in Chicken & Turkey: Deadly But Not Illegal
    Hundreds of thousands of Americans are Salmonella poisoned by poultry every year, yet it remains legal to sell meat proven to be contaminated.
  • Foodborne Rabies
    Foodborne Rabies
    The consumption of cat and dog meat may be playing a role in "massive human rabies epidemics" in Asia. (Some people may find some of the concepts and images in this video disturbing.)
  • Reducing Cancer Risk In Meateaters
    Reducing Cancer Risk In Meateaters
    Those who eat meat risk food poisoning from undercooked meat, but also exposure to cooked meat carcinogens in well-cooked meat. By boiling meat, non-vegetarians can mediate their risk of both.
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