You can’t help but hear about recent problems with foodborne illnesses and wonder when — not if — one bad meal will make you or your family sick… or worse.
Even more distressing are daily news reports that more big box retailers, restaurants and food companies are reporting problems with making, handling and distributing our foods safely.
Escherichia coli, better known as E. coli, has been one of the more recent and popular bacterial invaders hiding in tainted rotisserie chicken salad at Costco Warehouse Club or unknown, sickening ingredients in foods prepared at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants.
Yet, E. coli is one of the most common types of bacteria around, living harmlessly in guts of humans and animals. Moreover, a recent University of Michigan study discovered how a protein in E. coli may be responsible for inhibiting the spread of Parkinson’s disease.
So, you may be wondering how E. coli bacteria can be benign, yet so dangerous.
The Dangers of E. coli
When some forms of E. coli spread into our environment from improper food handling, processing or cooking, contact with contaminated water or working with animals, given our national and international food supply chain and less funding at the federal level for food safety, people get sick.
Some 48 million Americans are sickened by a foodborne illness, and more than 125,000 are hospitalized every year, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s latest Outbreak Alert that analyzed data collected for a decade.
For most who come in contact with E. coli, the uncomfortable symptoms — severe abdominal cramping, watery diarrhea and gas — will pass within 10 days, if not sooner. If these symptoms sound very familiar to you, they’re also associated with traveler’s diarrhea.
However, one serious and infectious complication with E. coli — hemolytic uremic syndrome — destroys red blood cells and may lead to kidney failure and dialysis treatments.
Follow These Steps to Avoid E. coli
Fortunately, the steps you can take to avoid being sickened by E. coli are very easy to follow.
- Wash your hands before preparing foods and after contact with barnyard animals (sheep, goats and cows) with plain soap (no antibacterial substances) and clean water.
- Also, wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking or eating them.
- Cook meats at the proper minimum internal temperature.
- The same “keep it clean” mantra also applies to cutting boards, plates, countertops, cooking surfaces and utensils.
Taking a daily probiotic, ideally containing with multiple species of beneficial bacteria — like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior — strengthens the immune system that protects your health from nasty foodborne problems like E. coli.