Foodborne Illnesses Throughout History Nobody Wanted

In 1907, one woman affected over 3,000 people with salmonella in New York. The first recorded salmonella outbreak took place in 1907. Almost 3,000 inhabitants of… Trista - September 15, 2021

In 1907, one woman affected over 3,000 people with salmonella in New York.

The first recorded salmonella outbreak took place in 1907. Almost 3,000 inhabitants of New York had been infected by Salmonella typhi. How did such a huge outbreak occur? It was probably because of a lady named Mary Mallon. She was born in Ireland in 1869 before emigrating to the United States in 1884. However, she was a carrier of Salmonella typhi. She thought she was healthy and worked in various domestic positions. During that time, Mallon became employed by wealthy families. Eventually, she became a cook. However, because she assumed herself healthy, her denial of being sick allowed her to spread the illness.

Over the years, she gained the unfortunate yet accurate nickname of Typhoid Mary. Authorities forced her into quarantine two different times. Both occasions, she lived on North Brother Island. Mallon was in quarantine for 26 years until she passed away. Although she had no friends of family nearby, Mallon apparently found solace in her faith.


PCA went bankrupt because of a salmonella outbreak.

In 2009, the Peanut Corporation of America, or PCA, experienced a massive salmonella outbreak. The CDC reported that 714 people got sick. Furthermore, nine people died from the contaminated peanut butter. In return, PCA prompted a recall of over 3,600 peanut butter products at that time. The Peanut Corporation of America is now bankrupt. It is most likely because they had to compensate the victims as well as the families of the deceased.

Remember, most people do recover from salmonella infections. It can take four to seven days of rest, extra fluids, electrolytes, and antibiotics. If you experience diarrhea paired with a fever and abdominal cramps, it might be salmonella poisoning. You can take antidiarrheal medications to help with the symptoms as well. If the symptoms don’t go away, or continue to get worse after a week, seek medical help.


A company had to throw away 36 million pounds of turkey because of salmonella.

Maybe you like turkey burgers, or just really love that classic Thanksgiving meat. Whatever the case may be, Cargill had to toss out millions of pounds of ground turkey. Why? Because at least one person died from salmonella after eating the product. Another 136 people became ill across 34 states. It all happened in 2011 when the suspected meat had an antibiotic-resistant strain. That means, even with prescribed medicine, the infection will only get worse and spread.

It is important to make sure you cook meat all of the way through to kill any bacteria present. Not only that, but make sure you always wash your hands after dealing with raw meat. That goes double before you touch anything else like fruits or veggies. Keep your counters clean using different towels for different surfaces and dirty juices.


There are no winners with these chicken dinners.

When people think of salmonella poisoning, they usually think of that sloppy chicken liquid floating around the counters. That might have been the culprit for this next foodborne illness outbreak. In 2013, a chicken producer in California possibly infected about 634 people with salmonella food poisoning. Forster Farms is the root of the problem according to authorities.

Not only did 29 states report problems with the chicken, but even Puerto Rico had cases of food poisoning because of it. Thankfully, nobody died from the outbreak. At that time, the company had issued a voluntary recall on all Foster Farms brand chicken products. Although we are not entirely sure we the recall wasn’t an issue with the FDA, we are grateful they voluntarily made the right decision.


Cucumbers infected 907 people, and six of them died.

What was the most recent salmonella outbreak that wrecked havoc on everyone? It was in 2015. The culprit was cucumbers from Mexico. Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce imported and distributed them across 40 states. Unfortunately, they were tainted with the bacteria and infected 907 people. Yes, almost 1,000 people became sick because of these contaminated cucumbers.

Out of the 907 cases, over 200 of them resulted in hospitalizations. Not only that, but six people even died because of the outbreak. Since the spread of the illness, the company has issued two separate recalls. Perhaps that means the outbreak actually came from different strains. Talk about bad luck and poor cleaning practices.


Gain more knowledge about the bacterium known as salmonella.

The most common sources for spreading this bacterium include meats, fruits, spices, and eggs. Yes, it is a wide range of foods. Not only that, but you have to add raw, untreated tree nuts to that list, too. People who contract salmonella will feel sick for four to seven days. That is, in most cases, of course, unlike some within this list of the worst foodborne illness outbreaks throughout history.

Most cases of salmonella poisoning cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. However, you may also get a fever. In those severe cases, people contracted enteric fever. Please seek medical attention if you have had a high fever for a long time.


We haven’t even mentioned the most common culprit of foodborne illnesses yet: campylobacter.

You probably have never heard of this bacterium, but it could have infected you before. It spreads through raw and undercooked meat, fish, and poultry. You can also get campylobacter from dairy products and contaminated water. It causes diarrhea, cramping, and abdominal pain, along with fever. Nausea and vomiting are other signs of campylobacter infection. If you have bloody stool, seek medical help. This foodborne illness can last two to ten days after eating or drinking the bacteria.

Do you want to know an easy way to avoid contracting this foodborne illness? Make sure your meat, fish, and poultry are cooked thoroughly. You can cut the raw meat open during the cooking process. If you thoroughly cook your meat, it should not be pink or red anymore, but instead brown. You can also use a cooking thermometer to test the internal temperature of the meat.


Norovirus is highly contagious and will cause foodborne illness.

If you have stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting, that is not normal. That is particularly true if you just ate or drank something that seemed off earlier in the day. This virus is very contagious, especially for young kids and older adults who are susceptible to contracting viruses. The illness lasts anywhere from one to three days. However, children and the elderly, as well as people with weakened immune systems, may become hospitalized and have severe symptoms for up to six days.

What is the common source of norovirus? If someone who has the virus prepares a meal using fresh produce, it can easily spread. Shellfish, meats, and ready-to-eat foods like sandwiches, salads, cookies, and ice cream can also be the culprit if an infected person touches them. Drinking contaminated water is also a big no-no.


Vacationing in the tropics is fun, but beware of those single-cell parasites.

Cyclospora cayetanensis might sound like an island with palm trees, but it is actually a single-cell parasite. It is commonly found in the tropics on fresh produce locally harvested there. Foods that might contain the parasite include herbs like basil and cilantro. Some varieties of lettuce can also carry it along with snow peas and even raspberries.

Unfortunately, you can become sick for a few days — or even a month or longer! Moreover, the symptoms are anything but typical of other foodborne illnesses. Cyclospora cayetanensis causes frequent, explosive bowel movements along with watery diarrhea. Abdominal cramps, nausea, and fatigue can also linger throughout the duration of the illness. As a result of a long sickness, a person can experience weight loss.


After that doozy, let’s discuss a less severe foodborne illness.

You probably weren’t aware that these serious conditions still could affect you today. However, we mentioned earlier that there are dozens of toxins, parasites, and bacteria that live within our world. Sometimes they get on our foods and contiminate them. Usually, people wash the food or cook it enough to eliminate these types of germs. Luckily, with this next case, you probably will only experience a mild condition. Clostridium perfringens sounds like you are calling this bacterium a bad name for getting you sick. However, that is actually the name of bacteria that causes diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Well, one of the many. You will feel these symptoms within six to 24 hours of consuming raw beef or poultry. Although typical cases last less than a day, severe cases can continue for one to two weeks.

Sometimes people refer to this foodborne illness as the buffet germ. Why? Because it proliferates in large food portions. Think potluck casseroles or holiday gravies that are left under heat lamps for too long. This type of food handling creates an unhealthy atmosphere. You should not leave certain products in room temperature conditions for too long if they require refrigeration. Make sure you have hot, fresh foods when you eat, especially at restaurants where the food handling is out of your own control.


Are any foods safe from spreading this foodborne illness?

Staphylococcus aureus is another common bacterium that spreads foodborne illnesses. Sources range from unpasteurized milk and dairy products to undercooked meats. Foods that need extensive handling and preparation can quickly spread this bacterium. It includes things like sliced meats, sandwiches, pastries, and salads like macaroni, potato, chicken, or tuna.

Luckily, the duration of this foodborne illness only lasts about one day. It is found on the skin of humans. This bacterium also lives in the nose, making it easy to spread. However, it has the potential to become a toxin that contaminates food when touched by those handling it. That is why it is always important to wash your hands with warm water and soap when preparing meat and produce. Staphylococcus aureus will cause typical foodborne symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.


Vibrio vulinficus is a mouthful to say — and feel!

Do you love eating shellfish? Oysters and similar foods aren’t for everyone. However, those who like them, love them! Nevertheless, you have to be careful consuming these delicacies. If you get sick for about three days after eating raw or undercooked shellfish, you’ll know why. It’s because of bacteria known as vibrio vulinficus. Oysters are a particularly common source of this bacterium. Although it naturally grows and thrives in warmer waters, people may consume it if they eat undercooked shellfish, like oysters.

What happens when a person becomes infected with this bacteria? You can expect the typical symptoms, like watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. However, you might also get a fever and experience chills during your three days of illness. Although you might enjoy feasting on shellfish and dining on oysters, make sure you cook them all the way through before you consume them.


Pay attention to food recalls to prevent foodborne illness.

Since food poisoning is not 100% preventable, there are several things you can do to shield yourself from consuming anything contaminated. Do you know what a food recall is? We mentioned a few in this article. Companies have to recall any food that is suspected of contamination. That doesn’t mean someone has to be already sick with an infection to have a recall.

How can you learn about these important announcements? Grocery stores often list any recalls for products by a customer service post. Not only that, but you can sign up for special emails that warn you of emergency recalls. Government inspections and food handling regulations are also helpful preventive measures workers use to keep your food safe. Pay attention to these food recalls, inspections, and other regulations. That way, you can lower your risk of food poisoning by not buying any of these products while they are on recall.


Follow these four simple steps when it comes to preventing food poisoning.

According to, you can follow four simple steps to prevent food poisoning. Those include cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling. You should clean germs by washing your hands with warm water and soap, especially after handling raw meat and before grabbing any fruits or veggies. Also make sure you wash your food, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops thoroughly. Separate means you shouldn’t cross-contaminate any products by using the same cutting boards or plates. Meat, seafood, poultry, and produce all should have their own spots.

Finally, make sure you cook everything to the proper temperature. Why? Because consuming under-cooked or raw meat can cause foodborne illness. Ensuring the proper internal temperature means it is hot enough to kill germs. Chilling involves refrigerating and freezing food properly. If food is perishable, it should be refrigerated within two hours of consumption.


Seek medical attention if you have the following symptoms.

We know this is a lot of information to take in at once. Learning thousands of people die in the United States from foodborne illnesses is a bit scary. Why? Because the advanced society is not a third-world country with prepping, cooking, and refrigeration issues. Please remember that food poisoning can be life threatening, especially for children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. Although people do recover from many infections, you should see a doctor if you have serious symptoms, such as blood vomit or stools or extreme abdominal pain. Beware of signs of dehydration like dizziness, decreased urination, and palpitations.

Blurry vision and a fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit should also send you to the doctor’s office. If you have diarrhea lasting more than three days straight, make sure you seek medical help. That doesn’t even have to contain bloody stools. Beware that you may start losing weight if the illness lasts for several days or weeks. If for whatever reason you think a food you are able to eat might be contaminated or spoiled, just throw it away in the garbage. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.