Foodborne Illness: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

One of the most important aspects of learning proper food preparation techniques is ensuring that food safety is the top of priorities. Foodborne illnesses, also known as food poisoning, happen when humans consume contaminated food or beverages.

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The contamination may happen at any stage of the food production process, including growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping, or preparing food. As a food handler, you are obligated to ensure that the food you are preparing and giving to consumers is safe to eat. During your Utah food handlers training program, you will learn the best ways to prepare and handle food with care and food safety in mind at every stage of the process

You will also learn about the various foodborne illness types that may be transmitted via foods and beverages that have been contaminated.

What Are Foodborne Illnesses?

Illnesses that develop in people after consuming contaminated food are considered foodborne. It is better known as food poisoning, and the effects of food poisoning can be very severe depending on the type of illness that develops.

There are many different types of food contaminants that can affect the food in different stages of production such as preparation, cooking, cooling and reheating of the food. Food handlers should be aware of cross-contamination, especially in their kitchen or food preparation space.

food item cleaned properly to prevet bacteria

For example, if you place raw meat on a cutting board, that board needs to be properly cleaned before using it for any other type of food. This action will prevent cross-contamination from raw food to cooked foods.

The Most Common Pathogens that Cause Foodborne illness

Some of the most common contaminants that result in foodborne diseases contracted after consuming contaminated food include:

  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Salmonella
  • Rotavirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Campylobacter
  • Giardia lamblia
  • Shigella
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Noroviruses
  • Listeria
  • Many others

Foodborne infections must be prevented at every stage of the preparation and cooking process. Food handlers are trained to ensure that they do not contaminate foods that will be provided to consumers, and food safety is one of the most important aspects of the training program available through Easy Food Handlers.

Causes Of Foodborne Illness

As we have said, the causes of foodborne diseases come from many different sources. Every stage of the food production and preparation process has the potential to contaminate foods before they are sent to the next step. For example, contamination may occur during meat processing if the raw meat is exposed to animal feces.

At a restaurant, raw ingredients that are ready-to-eat such as produce (e.g., salads), can be easily contaminated if the proper food safety protocols are not followed. A food handler who has not sufficiently washed their hands after handling raw beef, poultry, pork, or fish can also contaminate foods that are later touched.

Separate cutting boards should be used for raw ingredients and cooked ones, for example if you are cutting raw chicken a different cutting board should be used for salad preparation to avoid cross-contamination.

Drinking unpasteurized milk or consuming raw or undercooked meat can contribute to an increased risk of developing a foodborne illness. Always cook and hold food at a safe temperature.

Is Food Preparation Included As A Potential Cause?

Yes! Food preparation is most certainly included in the list of potential causes of a foodborne illness, so all those who may be dealing with food must take the food handlers  training and obtain their permit prior to working with food.

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Symptoms Of Illnesses Due to Food Safety Issues

Depending on the type of contamination of certain foods, the symptoms of food poisoning may vary and can start within an hour or could take days or weeks to develop.

Symptoms of a Foodborne illnesses include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdominal region and stomach cramps 

These symptoms can last for several hours up to several days, food workers must remain diligent in their food safety efforts. If an individual consumed contaminated food and is part of a high-risk group, they may need to see a medical professional immediately if showing symptoms of foodborne illness. Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, infants and young children, and those with chronic conditions should seek medical attention as soon as possible if a very simple foodborne illness can quickly turn life threatening in this population.

How Are Foodborne Illnesses Treated?

In general, food poisoning and its symptoms will dissipate within a few hours to a few days, depending on the source of the contamination. If the symptoms are severe, medical treatment may be necessary.

Two of the most common treatments for these types of illnesses include:

  • Replacement of fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration
  • Antibiotics for illnesses caused by bacteria, not viruses 

At-home remedies may also be employed for adults with a foodborne illness. These include taking over-the-counter medications such as Imodium A-D or Pepto-Bismol. But if you are sick with a foodborne illnesses seek medical attention.

How to Get a Food Handlers Permit in Utah

When working in the food industry, food preparation is an important task that your local health department will take very seriously. At any stage or level, those in the food industry need to be certified to handle the foods that will be distributed to consumers.

At Easy Food Handlers, we are approved by the Utah Department of Health as a provider of the food handlers permit in the state. Our course will teach employees of restaurants and others in the food industry the proper ways to clean, handle, and prepare meats, vegetables, fruits, and other items to make sure they are safe to eat.


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Our system is easy and fun if you require your Utah food handlers permit. You need to sign up and pay for the course, watch the 75-minute video, answer questions as you progress through the online course, and complete the 40-question exam at the end with a 75% or better.

In under 90 minutes, you can be certified to prepare and handle food safely in any food service establishment including grocery stores. . The certification is valid for three years, and we offer a renewal course.

Contact us today to learn more about our food handlers course and get certified now!

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