|Food Poisonings Long Shadow|
Lesser-known Complications of Food-borne Illnesses Include Arthritis, Kidney Failure, or Temporary Paralysis
Everyone knows that food poisoning from undercooked meat or poultry can result in unsavory symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and stomach aches. For most victims, those symptoms subside within a matter of days. But for some, according to the cover story in the forthcoming May issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter, food poisoning casts a long, life-threatening shadow, characterized by kidney failure, chronic illnesses like reactive arthritis, or the frightening temporary paralysis of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Some of those afflicted are never the same again. And some die.
The first signs of these more serious symptoms follow days or even weeks after the more common initial symptoms of food poisoning, says David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the author of the article. Unfortunately, once one is infected with Salmonella, Campylobacter, or E. Coli O157:H7, theres nothing that can be done to reduce the likelihood of the worst-case scenarios: They either happen or they dont.
Those worst-case scenarios include:
New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that during the last five years, advances in meat inspection and improved meat industry practices have resulted in declining rates of food-borne illnesses. But food-safety experts are concerned that the Bush Administrations rollback of those inspection gains will send food-borne illness rates back up.
In the meantime, says Schardt, consumers can take some steps at the grocery store and in the kitchen to help reduce the risk of food-borne disease. Some of those steps are common senselike making sure juices from raw meat or poultry dont drip on fresh foods in your grocery cart, cooking meats thoroughly, and keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. But parents should also make sure their kids dont eat raw cookie dough if its made with eggsand be sure to give kitchen sponges a turn in the dishwasher along with plastic cutting boards.
Most consumers have no idea exactly how devastating the long-term consequences of food poisoning can be, Schardt says. And while we need to do everything we can to make sure contaminated products arent on the shelves in the first place, families can at least take care to minimize the risks at home.Note: For an advance copy of Food Poisonings Long Shadowand an accompanying sidebar with household food-safety tipsor to interview author David Schardt, contact Stephanie Grasmick at (202) 777-8316.