9 major diseases caused by food

550 million people get sick every year from eating spoiled food In other words, foodborne illnesses affect almost 1 in 10 people in the world and, although they are more common in poor countries, everyone is susceptible to them .

Food contamination is caused by the spread of pathogenic microorganisms in them, which use food as a means of transmission in our intestines, where they generally cause diarrheal diseases.

Despite the fact that in many cases they cause us minor disorders that resolve on their own after a few days of worry, some foodborne illnesses can be very serious, even fatal.

In fact, they are responsible for more than 400,000 deaths each year , so they are a public health alarm. Many of them are preventable and the best way to be aware of the importance of observing hygienic measures is to know them. This is what we are going to do in today’s article.

What is an foodborne illness (FAD)?

An foodborne illness (FAD) is any disorder caused by food intake contaminated by pathogenic microorganisms that grow in food and, if they reach sufficient population values ​​to cause us harm and we eat it, they will start to cause damage Me

ATS are caused by many different types of bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins produced by microorganisms and even chemical products. Some of them are almost exclusive to poor countries, although many of them affect the whole world.

Pathogens reach food through many different ways and can “get down” to the product at any stage of its production, from contamination of the raw material to bad practices when it reaches our home, through production and distribution, among others. .

Some pathogens come from fecal contamination (organisms present in the feces), others from the soil itself, some from the body fluids of infected people … Therefore, it is important that the entire food production chain is perfectly controlled , as it is very easy for pathogens to grow rapidly if there is contamination.

In case of contamination, one of the biggest problems is that many times we can not see that this product has pathogens. There are no signs of deterioration in appearance, taste or smell.

The moment we eat a contaminated product, we are introducing pathogens into our body and, if the immune system is unable to eliminate them, it is possible for them to colonize organs and tissues and cause us some of the following diseases: .

What are the most common ETAs?

There are many different pathogens that infect us through food. And it is important to keep in mind that most problems occur at home, because in the industry everything is very controlled and it is difficult for contaminated products to enter the market.

Most of these diseases, therefore, are caused by improper storage of products, we cook them poorly, we do not respect hygienic measures … ATS are preventable. Here are some of the most common .


1. Gastroenteritis

It is the most common ETA. Many types of bacteria and viruses can cause this disorder. , which is also known as “diarrheal disease”. Billions of people suffer from it every year. In fact, it is one of the most common diseases in all countries of the world.

Gastroenteritis consists of an inflammation of the inner membrane of the intestine due to its colonization by various pathogens, which reach the digestive system through food.

The most common symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and chills. Although its severity varies depending on the type of pathogen that causes it and the person’s health condition, it usually does not cause many problems.

Most people recover without the need for treatment. The problem comes with children, the elderly and immunosuppressed, everyone can have problems if dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting is not resolved. In poor countries, in fact, it is the leading cause of infant mortality.

2. Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is a disease caused by the bacteria “Salmonella” , a bacterium that is naturally present in the intestine of mammals, but some strains can behave as pathogens.

Its arrival in the body is generally done through roasted (or directly raw) meat, poorly washed fruits and vegetables, raw eggs and pasteurized milk. For this reason, it is very important to cook food well (at high temperatures we kill bacteria), monitor personal hygiene and store food in the refrigerator.

Symptoms of salmonellosis include fever, severe diarrhea, frequent vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, weakness … are more serious than gastroenteritis, but also usually go away on their own within a week.

3. Listeriosis

Listeriosis is a disease caused by “Listeria monocytogenes” , a pathogen that is present in water, soil and wildlife, and can pass into food if hygienic measures are not observed during production. Causes one of the most severe ETAs.

Although it usually causes gastrointestinal symptoms similar to salmonellosis, the problem with listeriosis is that the pathogen does not always stay in the gut but can travel to other organs. Thus, listeriosis can cause meningitis, septicemia or other disorders that can endanger a person’s life and even cause miscarriages in pregnant women, as the bacteria cross the placenta and attack the fetus.

It is essential to apply treatment, which consists of antibiotics that kill bacteria. The person will need to be hospitalized and kept under observation.

4. Brucellosis

Brucellosis is a disease caused by the “Brucella” bacterium, which usually affects us when we consume raw milk or cheeses made from the milk of sheep or goats infected with the bacteria. It is, therefore, a bacterium that is transmitted from animals to humans using dairy products as a means of transmission.

Symptoms of brucellosis can appear within a few days or months of infection, something unusual in ATS. Symptoms include fever, weakness and fatigue, joint pain, muscle and back pain, headache, loss of appetite, etc.

This disease is usually treated effectively with antibiotics, although treatment may take several weeks as it is difficult to prevent a recurrence of the infection. The best prevention is not to eat raw dairy products.

5. Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is a disease caused by a virus that reaches food through fecal contamination , that is, from the feces left by an infected person. Although viruses cannot reproduce in food, a few virus particles are enough to make us develop the disease.


Once we have consumed the contaminated product, the virus travels to the liver and begins to damage it. Symptoms appear a few weeks after infection when this organ has deteriorated and include: the skin turns yellow, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, low temperature, weakness and fatigue, abdominal pain, dark colored urine, itching, etc.

Despite being viral diseases, antibiotics do not work, most cases resolve without major complications before six months.

6. Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the parasite “Toxoplasma gondii” , which can affect us by eating raw meat of lambs or pigs contaminated by the parasite. Therefore, it is a disease that is transmitted by animals.

Although it does not always cause symptoms, when they appear they are: fever, muscle aches, sore throat, fever, vision loss, swollen lymph nodes …

Treatment consists of administering drugs that kill the parasite, which is found in the intestines. The best prevention is to always cook lamb and pork well, as high temperatures kill the parasite.

7. Anisakiasis

Anisakiasis is a disease caused by the consumption of the parasite “Anisakis”, which is present in many fish. For this reason, it is mandatory that the fish sold be pre-frozen. However, it is possible for cases of this disease to occur.

This parasite can not only cause the disease itself, but often causes allergies. With the most common Symptoms are stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation and in the most severe cases: intestinal obstruction. In the case of allergies, it can be caused by simple skin outbreaks in anaphylactic shock, which is fatal.

Medications are not effective in killing the parasite, so surgical intervention will most likely be necessary to kill it. Anyway, by freezing the fish and then cooking it well, we kill the parasite in complete safety.


8. Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis is a very common FD caused by “Campylobacter”, a bacterium commonly found in contaminated chicken and other poultry and pasteurized milk.

The most common gastrointestinal symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), cramps, fever … Although not common, bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and cause bacteremia, a life-threatening situation.

Although antibiotic treatments are effective, it is best to prevent infection. This is why it is so important not to eat raw chicken and to avoid consuming unpasteurized milk or cheeses.

9. Botulism

Botulism is a rare but extremely serious disease with an ETA caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum in food, a bacterium commonly found in soil and which tends to cause problems, especially in improperly prepared cans.


The symptoms are due to the neurological damage caused by the toxin, as it begins to kill the cells of the body and appears blurred vision, difficulty in speaking, difficulty in swallowing, muscle pain, weakness … If left untreated, it is very likely that be fatal.

The person will require immediate hospitalization and will be treated with antitoxins. Given its severity, it is important to remember that those stores in which there are many bubbles or containers are inflated should be avoided. If they are prepared at home, it is essential to sterilize all utensils and utensils and try to acidify the product we are going to package.

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