Food poisoning, which is also called food-borne illness, occurs when a person consumes tfood hat has been contaminated with an infectious organism. These infectious organisms can include bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that there are approximately 76 million cases of food poisoning in the United States each year.
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The most common cause of food poisoning from raw fruits and vegetables is cross-contamination, which is defined by MayoClinic.com as the transfer of harmful organisms from one surface to another. Raw fruits and vegetables often become contaminated when they touch surfaces that have previously held meat or when a person touches the produce with unwashed hands. Because raw fruits and vegetables do not undergo any cooking procedure, the infectious organisms that contaminate them are able to thrive and cause food poisoning.
There are numerous infectious organisms that can contaminate raw fruits and vegetables and cause food poisoning. Some of the most common of these infectious organisms are the bacteria Shigella and Noroviruses. Hepatitis A, Giardia lamblia and Rotavirus also can invade raw produce and cause food poisoning. Occasionally, Salmonella and E. coli from meat sources make their way to raw fruits and vegetables.
The onset of symptoms of food poisoning from raw fruits and vegetables varies based on the type of organism that is causing the poisoning, but symptoms are generally the same for all types, however. These symptoms can include abdominal cramps, severe diarrhea, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue and weakness. Food poisoning sickness can last from one to 10 days, according to MayoClinic.com.
Medline Plus notes that most people recover from food poisoning without medical intervention. The goal of treatment for food poisoning is to replenish fluids in an effort to avoid dehydration. Water or over-the-counter electrolyte solutions are the best way to replace lost fluid. If diarrhea is excessive, intravenous electrolyte solutions might be necessary.
There are a number of steps a person can take to decrease the chances of developing food poisoning from raw fruits and vegetables. An important step is to wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption. Vegetable brushes and washing solutions are available for more in-depth cleansing.
Another way to decrease the chances of food poisoning is to keep raw fruits and vegetables separate from foods that can cause contamination, such as raw meat. Use separate cutting boards and knives during food preparation.