Posts Tagged ‘food poisoning’

Barbecues, picnics and food safety

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

For many of us, summertime means lots of barbecues and picnics. Both are popular outdoor activities and are great ways to get together with family and friends. They also include lots of grilled foods and side dishes, like pasta salad and potato salad. If you’re pregnant and planning to eat at an outdoor event, here’s what you should know:

Not all foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. Some foods are more likely than others to have harmful bacteria like Listeria or Salmonella. These bacteria can cause infections that can be dangerous during pregnancy. Deli meat, hot dogs, dry sausages, refrigerated patés or meat spread, and soft cheese, like brie and feta, are examples of foods that are most likely to be contaminated with Listeria. Food made with raw eggs, like homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, cookie dough, frostings and homemade ice cream, may have Salmonella. If you’re pregnant, don’t eat these foods.

Cold foods need to stay cold. When foods that need to be cold or refrigerated are kept at room temperature, bacteria and germs start to form. Even if the food looks and smells good, it can be contaminated and make you sick. Always keep pasta salads and potato salads in a cooler. Don’t leave them at room temperature.

Food preparation matters. Foods can become contaminated with harmful bacteria when they aren’t prepared properly or when they’re cooked or stored at the wrong temperature. Eating contaminated foods can cause food poisoning. When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to infections like food poisoning as it was before pregnancy. During pregnancy, food poisoning can cause serious problems for you and your baby, including premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your baby from food poisoning during pregnancy:

  • Make sure your food is fully cooked. Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, pork, poultry, fish or shellfish. Fully cook hamburger, steak, chicken and pork so they don’t have any blood or pink areas.
  • Don’t eat foods made with homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce or other products prepared with raw or half-cooked eggs.
  • Keep cold foods, like pasta or potato salad, in a cooler.
  • Throw away any food that sits at room temperature for more than 2 hours. It may be contaminated and may make you sick.

For more information visit:
marchofdimes.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Foodsafety.gov

Fever and pregnancy

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

A fever is an increase in your body temperature. It usually happens when you’re sick and is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. The average body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). For a woman who is pregnant, a body temperature over 101°F (38.3°C) may be a concern. Fevers early in pregnancy may be linked to birth defects, like neural tube defects, and other problems in your baby. A birth defect is a health condition that is present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works. Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

Signs and symptoms

Aside from an increase in body temperature, other signs and symptoms of a fever may include:

  •  Sweating
  • Chills and shivering
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Dehydration
  • General weakness

Treatment

If you’re pregnant and have a fever, it’s very important to contact your health care provider. She can then determine what is causing your fever and if you need additional treatment. Most pregnant women can take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®). Make sure you follow the directions on the product label and check with your provider before you take any medication.

Prevention

Here are some tips that you can take that may reduce your chances of getting sick:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash hands before preparing or eating food, after handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables. Wash them after being around pets or animals and after changing diapers or wiping runny noses.
  • Get your flu shot. It’s safe to get the flu shot during pregnancy. It protects you and your baby from serious health problems during and after pregnancy.
  • Try to avoid people who are sick. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t share your dishes, glasses, utensils or toothbrush.
  • Make sure you’re up to date with all your vaccinations. Vaccinations can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy.
  • Handle foods safely. And avoid raw meat, fish, eggs & unpasteurized foods to prevent food poisoning.

Again, make sure you contact your health care provider if you have a fever and are pregnant. Your provider can make sure that you get the treatment you need to help you to start feeling better.

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

I just ate unpasteurized cheese and I’m worried I have Listeria. What symptoms should I watch for? Do I need to be tested?

Eating unpasteurized cheese does put you at risk for a Listeria infection (called listeriosis). So during your pregnancy it’s important to avoid unpasteurized cheeses and other foods made with unpasteurized milk. The US Food and Drug Administration has developed additional food safety guidelines specific to pregnancy.

While listeriosis has not been found to cause birth defects, it can increase the risk for miscarriage, preterm delivery, and still birth. It also increases the risk of infection in newborns which can result in very serious long-term complications for baby.

Not everyone who is infected with Listeria will have symptoms, but some will have mild to severe symptoms that appear a few days or even weeks after eating contaminated food. Symptoms of a Listeria infection to watch for may include: diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, joint pain, headache, backache, chills, sore throat, swollen glands, and sensitivity to light.

Since not everyone has symptoms, it is important to be tested if you think you might have listeriosis. Your health care provider can order a simple blood test to confirm a Listeria infection. Treatment will reduce the risks of infection for you and your baby.

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.

Cooking out this weekend?

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

pregnant couple with grocery bagLong holiday weekends are prime time for cookouts and family gatherings. And there’s one activity that can always bring people together – eating! Whether you’re hosting or preparing a side dish, be sure you take precautions in your preparations and in how your dish is served. These tips are especially important for pregnant women.

Before you begin your prep, here’s some tips to ensure your meal is a success:

  • Wash your hands. And then wash all of your fruits and vegetables and cut away any damaged sections.
  • Keep your raw meats and the tools you used to prepare them and keep them separate from the rest of your foods and supplies.
  • Make sure your meats such as hamburgers and grilled chicken are cooked thoroughly.
  • Be sure any salads and dishes with mayonnaise are kept cold and out of the sun.
  • Be sure to put leftovers away quickly – within 2 hours after eating.

Why the extra precaution?

Bacteria from foods can cause Salmonella and Listeriosis, both of which can be harmful to pregnant women.

Listeriosis is a kind of food poisoning caused by Listeria bacteria. This type of bacteria can come from hot dogs, unwashed fruits and vegetables and cold salads.

Salmonella is another kind of food poisoning caused by Salmonella bacteria. You can find this kind of bacteria in undercooked poultry, meat, fish or eggs.

If you’re pregnant, one of these types of food poisoning can cause serious problems for you and your baby, including premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth. This is why it’s important to prepare your foods properly and serve foods that are safe. Your guests will be sure to thank you for a wonderful cookout and great company.

Have questions about a certain dish you are planning to make? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Turtles look cute but are dangerous to pregnant women and young children

Friday, January 27th, 2017

boy w pet turtleIf you’re pregnant or have children under the age of 5, you should remove any reptile or amphibian you may have in your home. That’s because they can carry salmonella, a bacteria that can make you and your children very sick – it can even be life threatening.

The salmonella bacteria is commonly carried by reptiles, such as lizards, snakes and turtles, and amphibians, such as frogs, salamanders and newts. Chickens, ducks and geese can also carry salmonella.

Pregnant women, infants, young children and anyone with a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of getting the infection.

The risk of salmonella is so serious that the sale of turtles less than 4 inches in size has been banned in the United States since 1975. These little creatures may look cute but they have the potential to cause serious disease. The CDC warns: “Don’t be fooled Just because you can’t see the bacteria doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”

According to the FDA, the death of a 4-week-old baby in Florida in 2007 “was linked to Salmonella from a small turtle. The DNA of the Salmonella from the turtle matched that from the infant.”

Scary stuff.

How can you get infected with Salmonella?

You can get infected by eating foods that are contaminated with Salmonella, such as poultry, meat and eggs, or by touching an infected animal.

Even if a pet reptile has a negative test for salmonella, it doesn’t mean the animal is not infected. It may mean that the animal was just not “shedding salmonella” on the day it was tested. Salmonella can be found in feces (poop), soil, water (including fish tank water), and the food and bedding of infected animals. Salmonella germs can spread easily to an animal’s fur, feathers and scales.

Symptoms of salmonellosis

Signs of salmonellosis usually start a half day to three days after contact and symptoms last from four to seven days. Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Belly pain
  • Blood in your stool (poop) or dark or amber-colored urine (pee)
  • Dehydration (not enough water or fluids in your body)
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle pains
  • Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting (throwing up)

To check for salmonellosis, your health care provider will take a stool sample and send it to a lab for testing.

Is Salmonella dangerous during pregnancy?

Yes. It can lead to health complications during pregnancy, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood), which can lead to problems, like meningitis, a serious infection that causes swelling in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Reactive arthritis (also called Reiter’s syndrome), which can cause swelling or pain in your joints.

Salmonellosis can be passed to your baby during pregnancy. If your baby is born with salmonellosis, she may have diarrhea and fever after birth. She also may develop meningitis.

Bottom line

Don’t have turtles and other reptiles or amphibians in your home. If you touch them at a petting zoo or other place, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands immediately after coming into contact with them.

 

Prevent infections by preventing foodborne illnesses

Friday, January 13th, 2017

woman eating saladAt one time or another in our lives, we’ve probably all experienced the very unpleasant symptoms of food poisoning. Usually within a day, you bounce back to your normal self. But for pregnant women and babies, foodborne illness can be extremely dangerous. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and fever, can become life-threatening. If you are infected during pregnancy, foodborne illnesses can cause premature birth, miscarriage, or stillbirth. And some foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis, can infect your baby even if you don’t have any signs or symptoms of food poisoning.

There are ways to protect yourself

During pregnancy, make sure that you are doing all that you can to prevent infections due to bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illnesses.

When preparing food:

  • Wash your hands before and after food preparation. You should wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under running tap water before eating, and remove surface dirt with a scrub brush, cutting away any damaged sections, which can contain bacteria.
  • Remove and throw away the outer leaves of leafy green vegetables, like lettuce and spinach.
  • Cut away damaged sections of fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash utensils and cutting boards with hot soapy water after each use. Don’t use cutting boards made of wood. They can hold more germs than other kinds of cutting boards.
  • After preparing food, clean countertops with hot soapy water.

Make sure food is separated, cooked, and chilled properly before serving:

  • Separate raw meat and poultry from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook foods to their proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles.
  • Chill foods that need to be kept cool if you will be outside for long periods. Foods made with mayo, such as pasta or potato salads, need to be kept cold and out of the sun. Or try using a recipe for an olive oil-based dressing. These will keep fresher longer.
  • Never eat cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours. At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.

Avoid these foods during pregnancy to prevent food poisoning:

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked meat (beef, poultry, pork, and fish).
  • Don’t eat raw or runny eggs or any foods made with them–this includes cake batter and raw cookie dough!
  • Raw meat, fish and eggs can contain harmful germs that can give you food poisoning, like salmonella infection. Cooking them fully kills the germs, which helps keep you and your baby from getting sick.
  • Avoid raw sprouts, especially alfafa sprouts.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses. Many dairy products, like milk, eggs and cheese, are pasteurized. This means they’re heated to kill germs. Avoid unpasteurized juice, milk, or soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela. If the product label doesn’t say “pasteurized,” pick a different product. Unpasteurized dairy products can give you food poisoning, like listeriosis.

If you think you may have food poisoning, call your health care provider right away. You can read more about foods that you should avoid during pregnancy here.

This may seem like a lot of foods to avoid. But, the truth is that there are many good foods you can eat during pregnancy. Visit our website for menu ideas.

Ice cream and listeria

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream® is recalling all of its ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches because the products may have listeria. Listeria is a kind of bacteria that can cause the food poisoning, listeriosis. This recall follows the Blue Bell ice cream recall from a couple weeks ago, also due to listeria.

You can get listeriosis and other kinds of food poisoning from harmful germs in something you eat or drink. Listeriosis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache. Most healthy people don’t get sick from listeriosis. It mostly affects people with a weak immune system, including pregnant women, newborns, elderly people and people with health conditions, like diabetes or HIV. If you get listeriosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious and even life-threatening health problems for your growing baby.

If you have the recalled ice cream, throw it out. You also can return or exchange the recalled ice cream at the same store where you bought it. Contact Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at (614) 360-3905 or at jenis.com/recall if you have any questions.

For more information about this ice cream recall, visit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website. Learn more about listeriosis and pregnancy.

Memorial Day weekend food safety

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Grill2Memorial Day weekend is here and it is the unofficial start of summer–hooray! This weekend many of us will be going to cook-outs. Although these can be lots of fun, if you are pregnant, it is very important to make sure that you take the appropriate precautions.

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:

• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.

• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. Internal temperatures should be 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. So, refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken need to be cooked thoroughly. And make sure that any pasta or potato salads, especially those with mayonnaise, are kept cold and out of the sun. During meal times, while food is being served and eaten, keep it hot (at 140˚F or above). After meals are over, refrigerate leftovers quickly and don’t keep them out for too long (within 1 hour during the summer).

Remember that although food poisoning is miserable for anyone, it poses special risks to pregnant women and their unborn babies because pregnancy affects your immune system. Your immune system is your body’s way of protecting itself from illnesses and diseases. But when you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldn’t reject your baby. So, your body naturally lowers the immune system’s ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. A lowered immune system means you’re more susceptible to illnesses, including those bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Enjoy your Memorial Day but just make sure you take the appropriate precautions at all of those backyard cookouts so that you have a fun and safe weekend. And of course, we want to say thank you to all the many men and women and their families who have given so much to keep our country safe and secure. It is important for us to recognize their dedication and sacrifice Memorial Day and everyday.

Egg safety

Friday, April 18th, 2014

egg huntEaster egg hunts are fun for kids of all ages. With a little caution, you can make sure your family stays safe from Salmonella and other food poisoning illnesses caused by eating contaminated eggs.  If you don’t celebrate Easter, this info on egg safety will still come in handy, especially with summer picnics around the corner.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an estimated 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with Salmonella. The FDA has put regulations in place to help prevent contamination of eggs on the farm and during shipping and storage. But consumers play a key role in preventing illness associated with eggs. In fact, the most effective way to prevent egg-related illness is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs — or foods that contain them — safely.

Follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family, courtesy of the FDA:

When buying eggs

•    Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
•    Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
•    Refrigerate promptly.

Store raw eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.

Rules for eating hard boiled eggs

•    Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods, should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.
•    Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking. Cooked eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold.
•    Don’t put the cooler in the trunk — carry it in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of the car.
•    If taking cooked eggs to work or school, pack them with a small frozen gel pack or a frozen juice box.

If you enjoy making egg salad, deviled eggs or other delicious egg dishes, here are more egg safety tips, for you.

A safe egg hunt

All these “rules” got your head spinning? For a worry-free egg hunt, either hide the eggs an hour or two before the hunt and put them in the refrigerator right after the hunt, or better yet, use plastic decorative eggs if you are going to keep them out overnight or after the hunt. You can keep the decorated hard-boiled eggs in the fridge until ready to eat or adorn your table.

Recall of foods due to possible listeria contamination

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Concern of possible listeria contamination is prompting grocery stores in 25 states to pull refrigerated foods from their shelves. Listeriosis is a kind of food poisoning caused by bacteria called Listeria. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than others to get listeriosis. If you get listeriosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious and even life-threatening health problems for your growing baby.

Reser’s Fine Foods Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., has expanded a recall of refrigerated ready-to-eat foods including potato salad, cole slaw, salsa, salad kits that include dressing… distributed in the U.S. and Canada because they may be contaminated with listeria. Last week the recall included over 100,000 cases of chicken, ham and beef products produced in the company’s Topeka, Kansas plant.  In a recall notice issued by the Food and Drug Administration, the firm said there were no confirmed reports of illness.

To be on the safe side, check your refrigerators for any of the products sold widely at stores including Walmart, Safeway and Target. Click here for a list of the products. If you have eaten any of these products and are pregnant or experiencing any of the symptoms of infection, contact your health care provider right away. Treatment depends on your symptoms. During pregnancy, quick treatment with antibiotics can keep listeriosis from harming your baby.

UPDATE, 10/28: Boston Salads and Prepared Foods, Boston, MA is voluntarily recalling the following prepared salads, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The Seafood and Shrimp Salad, Chef’s Recipe Potato Salad, Seafood Salad, Tuna Salad and Shrimp Salad were manufactured by Boston Salads and Prepared Foods and bear the Boston Salads, Rachael’s Gourmet, Dietz and Watson labels. Read more here.