Certain groups at higher risk of foodborne illnesses
Tuesday, Feb 25th 2014

Foodborne illnesses can occur due to a number of reasons, including improper refrigeration and unsafe food handling. However, some individuals, including seniors, children, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases, are more at risk of contracting food poisoning than others.

According to Live Science contributor Fred Cicetti, a range of factors create a higher risk level for these groups. For example, due to their age, senior citizens' immune systems may not perform as well as that of a younger individual. For this reason, an older person may become sick with food poisoning and another, younger person with a well functioning immune system could be unaffected.

However, young children and infants do not have fully developed immune systems, and are therefore among the groups that are more likely to become ill with food poisoning. Those with chronic diseases also have diminished immune systems, causing them to be at a higher risk. In addition, pregnant women are more likely to contract a foodborne illness because of natural changes in their metabolisms and circulation.

Causes and symptoms
A number of contaminants can cause foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli, noroviruses, rotavirus and Salmonella. Furthermore, improper food handling can also create conditions that can cause these bacteria and viruses to grow. These practices can include unsafe food processing, keeping an edible item too warm for too long and drinking unpasteurized liquids or contaminated water. Individuals can also become ill from consuming improperly prepared foods, undercooked items or raw edibles.

A person suffering from a foodborne illness may be dehydrated or have diarrhea, which can be dangerous if not addressed within the first few days.

How to prevent foodborne illnesses
Individuals can lessen their likelihood of falling ill by following standard food preparation and storage practices. A main cause of foodborne illnesses is improper refrigeration. Therefore, organizations within the food service industry should utilize temperature monitoring systems to ensure items are kept at the proper temperature.

Additionally, the York Daily Record noted that certain items should be separated within storage units to prevent cross contamination. For example, raw meats, poultry and fish should not be stored in close proximity to vegetables.

The source also suggested using an internal food thermometer to ensure that items are cooked to the proper level. Also, when transporting edibles, hot food should be kept above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and cold food should be maintained at 40 degrees F or below.