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Updated 24 July 2013

Foods most likely to make you sick

Feeling as sick as a dog? It could be something you've eaten. Here are all the foods that go off most quickly.

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Food poisoning often hits the news when it affects large groups of people, such as wedding guests, people on cruise liners, or people who get ill after eating at the same restaurants.

Contaminated food can poison your whole system for days. The experience is of such a kind that many people will avoid the particular foodstuff in question for the rest of their lives.

Certain foodstuffs always get the blame for food-poisoning incidents, such as seafood or chicken. But there are many other possible culprits, such as vegetables, reheated buffet foods, rice and eggs, which might have poisoned you.

It's not always easy to find out what exactly caused your illness. It's always a good idea to check with others who ate the same foods, and identify the culprit by seeing which other people also became ill.

The table below lists the micro-organisms most commonly associated with foodborne illness and examples of foods that are typical vehicles for those illnesses:

 

CAUSE FOODS MOST OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROBLEM
BACTERIA  
Bacillus cereus Reheated cooked rice, cooked meats, starchy puddings, vegetables and fish.
Improper handling after cooking is a common feature of foods causing B. cereus associated foodborne illness.
Clostridium perfringens Reheated foods including buffet dishes, cooked meat and poultry, beans, gravy, stews and soups.
Clostridium botulinum Improperly canned (home-preserved) foods such as vegetables, fish, meat and poultry.
Escherichia coli
(E.coli)
Salads and raw vegetables, undercooked meat, cheese, unpasteurised milk.
Campylobacter jejuni Raw milk, poultry.
Listeria monocytogenes Unpasteurised milk and milk products such as soft cheeses, raw meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, paté, smoked meat and fish, coleslaw.
Salmonella Undercooked poultry, meat, shellfish, salads, eggs and dairy products.
Staphylococcus aureus Ham, poultry, eggs, ice-cream, cheese, salads, custard and cream-filled pastries and gravies, are the most common sources. Improper handling of food or poor hygiene could help S.aureus spread into food.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus and other marine Vibrio Raw and undercooked fish and shellfish.
PARASITES  
Trichinella spiralis Undercooked pork or game.
Toxoplasma gondii Undercooked meat and poultry and raw milk.
VIRUSES  
Hepatitis A virus Shellfish, raw fruits and vegetables can be the uncommon cause of hepatitis A. Hepatitis A can be spread by contaminated food handlers inadvertently transferring the virus to the food they handle.

Source: The European Food Information Council (www.eufic.org)

- (Health 24, updated August 2011)

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