In a depression or some other type of societal breakdown, a common cause of death is food-borne illnesses. This is because people do not have the benefits of refrigerators and microwaves and they either don’t preserve their food properly, eat it after the expiration date or undercook it. Here, then, are some of the most common food-borne illnesses, what their symptoms are, and how to avoid them.
- Examples: Smoked fish and canned, low-acid foods.
- Cause: Spore-forming organisms that multiply and produce toxin even without oxygen, such as in a sealed container.
- Symptoms: Double vision, difficulty speaking, inability to swallow, difficulty breathing. Death occurs about 65% of the time.
- Characteristics: Transmitted by eating food with the toxin. Onset is 12 – 36 hours and it lasts 3 – 6 days.
- Prevention: Spores can be destroyed by high temperatures in a pressure canner. The toxin can be destroyed by 10-20 minutes at a boiling temperature, depending on the food, but it takes 6 hours to destroy the spores.
- Examples: Soups, stews or gravies made from red meat or poultry.
- Cause: Spore-forming bacteria that grow without oxygen.
- Symptoms: Diarrhea, nausea, inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
- Characteristics: Comes from eating food with large amounts of bacteria. Onset is 8 – 20 hours and lasts for 24 hours.
- Prevention: Cool foods rapidly and keep them below 40° F or keep them above 140° F.
- Examples: Red meat, poultry, dairy products, dried food.
- Cause: Lives and grows in the intestines of animals and humans.
- Symptoms: Headache, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and fever. Infants and the elderly are more susceptible and in severe cases there can be a high fever and even death.
- Characteristics: Transmitted by eating infected food or contact with infected people. Can also by transmitted by insects, rodents and other animals. Onset is 12 – 36 hours and lasts 2 to 7 days.
- Prevention: Heat the food to at least 140° F and hold it there for 10 minutes. Cooling food to 40° F or less inhibits growth of salmonellae but they can still live in the refrigerator or freezer.
4. Staphylococcal poisoning.
- Examples: Egg salad, potato salad, chicken salad, macaroni salad, cheese, salami and ham.
- Cause: The bacteria growing in the food produce a toxin that is extremely resistant to heat.
- Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting, cramps.
- Characteristics: Transmitted by eating the infected food or contact with people handling the food.
- Prevention: Keep hot foods above 140° and cold foods below 40° F. Boil the food for several hours or heat it in a pressure cooker at 240° for 30 minutes.
No matter how hungry you are, don’t neglect to properly cook and store your food.