While chemical poisons cause a stir in food, bacteria often go unnoticed. However, microbial food poisoning occurs 40 times more frequently in Germany than chemically related food disorders. Foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria can sometimes be very severe or fatal. As a rule, serious diarrheal diseases occur, which can also result in consequential damage. The causes of these diseases include salmonella, so-called EHEC bacteria, Champhylobacter and the bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica, the third most common cause of foodborne infections in Germany.
Summer time is diarrhea time
Especially in the summer months, the number of inflammatory diarrheal diseases increases significantly. Not only do people love the warm weather, the bacteria also feel particularly comfortable at high temperatures and then multiply very quickly. Out of just 100 germs, more than 3 million germs can be produced within 5 hours. With a Salmonellenerkrankung the germ count is crucial: who has only a few Salmonellen in the potato salad, comes away without diarrhea. But with 3 million germs on the spoon, no intestine remains untouched.
Mass diseases caused by salmonella
The fact that Salmonella are also the cause of mass illnesses is due, among other things, to the rapid multiplication of germs. People who suffer from salmonella excrete the bacteria with the stool and urine again. The rod-shaped bacteria, of which there are estimated to be more than 2, 000 different species, attach to the intestinal wall after ingestion, triggering the infection.
American scientists have now discovered that wall contact is controlled by a particular gene. The research efforts are now to prevent the attachment to the intestinal wall and to support the active further movement of the germ in the intestine.
EHEC bacteria endanger the kidneys
The name EHEC means enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli and refers to a group of bacteria that cause severe bloody diarrhea. In some cases, the so-called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), in which the blood vessel walls are damaged. The bacteria themselves destroy the cell walls.
The poison they produce in their metabolism attacks the blood cells and blood vessels of the kidney, the gastrointestinal tract and occasionally the brain. This can lead to acute kidney failure. The blood platelets, which are important for blood clotting, are also attacked and are rapidly decreasing. Left untreated, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) causes death.
Avoid EHEC infection by hygiene
"After eating, before eating, washing hands do not forget" is an old saying. He is still valid - and not just for children. EHEC bacteria belong to the group of the coli bacteria that are found everywhere. Humans also naturally carry around certain coliform bacteria. However, the aggressive EHEC bacteria come from the intestines of cattle, sheep and poultry, but also from the feces of pigeons.
EHEC bacteria are taken with food if, for example, meat is not heated sufficiently or eaten raw. But also raw milk and raw milk products are a source of infection for an EHEC infection. Washing hands as a prevention is especially important because the germs when stroking the animals on a so-called smear infection can be passed through tiny traces of feces. And only hand washing helps.
Hygiene is not a kitchen latex
In fact, hygiene is the alpha and omega of prevention of all microbial foodborne diseases. The range is diverse: it starts with the production of the most germ-free foods possible, goes beyond the optimal hygiene in the food industry and in the household and does not stop at the proper storage of food. The selection of as fresh as possible food is as important as a look at the expiration date of packaged goods.
During the warm summer months, it is advisable to use a cool box to transport perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs. When processing in your own kitchen, paper towels, ie disposable wipes, are as much a weapon for wiping away food poisoning as plastic cutting boards. They are easier to clean than wooden boards whose fiber structures allow the germs to penetrate easily.
Anyone who uses cotton or microfibre household towels should wash them daily at 60 degrees Celsius. Vegetables and meat should be cut on separate boards and kept separate. The defrosting water of frozen poultry is especially nutritious. It must therefore not come into contact with other foods.
The germ that came from the cold
Even if the food has been stored and refrigerated properly, microbial contamination may occasionally occur. The culprit is usually the bacterium Yersinia enterocilitica, which loves cold and can also multiply in the refrigerator by prolonged storage so that the germ count is sufficient for an infection.
In France, at the beginning of 2002, a number of fatalities caused Listeria. These germs can multiply particularly well in vacuum packaging, because they occur there alone. Therefore, it is important to control expiration dates and stop eating food after the expiration date. The Robert Koch Institute estimates that 200 adults a year are infected with Listeria.