Detective FoodSafe™ enters the scene and sees a woman struggling with abdominal cramps and gas, doubled over in pain.
She immediately sweeps in to investigate and look for clues to the cause of the problem.
Spotted on the kitchen counter was a quick bread made with blueberries and banana. There were also fresh fruit in a bowl, fig newtons in the cookie jar and some wheat bagels near the toaster.
“Aha” says Detective FoodSafe™, “the plot thickens — or should I say stinks!”
Detective Foodsafe™ Examines the Clues
The detective questions the victim to find that she has eaten only the quick bread today, along with a cup of tea. No other foods were eaten.
“When did you start to feel an upset tummy?” questions the detective, probing to find the solution.
“It started at around lunchtime when I started to think about what to make for lunch. It has gotten worse this afternoon until I had to call for your help,” states the victim.
“Can you tell me more about your symptoms?” inquires Detective FoodSafe™.
“Well, my abdomen is tightening up in waves. I feel all crampy. I have also felt rumblings of gas and I have a strong urge to run to the bathroom as I talk with you now. I haven’t been able to eat anything since breakfast, since my tummy is so troublesome. What could it be?” the victim responds.
“Let’s see, you drank your tea without milk or sugar; you had a slice of the blueberry quick bread without butter and nothing since then. Can you remember what you ate yesterday?” said the detective quizzically.
“I definitely know what I ate because I record it in my meal tracker fitness band” she says proudly.
“Good thing, now we can track back and find the culprit that caused these tummy troubles” states the detective.
Food Borne Illness Confirmed to be the Perpetrator
The detective observed the food log kept by the victim and was able to narrow down the questionable food to be the blueberry banana quick bread. Upon close inspection, the bread was incredibly moist due to both the berries and the banana and exhibited signs of mold growth. The quick bread was kept at room temperature for over three days.
There are conditions that contribute to the development of food borne illness. Most bacteria grow well give the right time, temperature and moisture content. The dangerous conditions include:
- F – Food Some foods are considered potentially hazardous such as raw animal foods, sprouts, melons, and shell eggs.
- A – Acid Foods with a ph of 7 are prone to microbial growth such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk.
- T – Temperature Between 60-110 degrees, bacteria flourishes but foods that are in the temperature danger zone (40-140 degrees) for two hours are at risk.
- T – Time Two hours is the time frame that bacteria can rapidly multiply, this time includes all preparation, serving and storing time.
- O – Oxygen Depending on the type of contamination, the presence or absence of oxygen can stimulate growth of microorganisms.
- M – Moisture All bacteria love moisture and grow well when it is present.
Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six people will be the victim of food borne illness by eating contaminated food or beverages.
The lining of your gastrointestinal tract can become inflamed when it is exposed to bacteria or pathogens from contaminated foods which cause symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, cramping and gas.
The best treatment when you believe you have been a victim is to drink plenty of fluids, manage diarrhea, pain reliever or fever reducer if needed, and eat soft bland foods to allow your bowel to rest. If symptoms persist more than three days, you have a high fever or blood in your stools, contact your healthcare provider.
Preventing Food Borne Illness
Preventing food borne illness is the best cure. Preparing and storing foods properly, maintaining the appropriate food temperature, cooking thoroughly and storing leftovers promptly will reduce your chances of being a victim. In general, refrigeration or freezing prevents virtually all bacteria from growing.
In The Case of the Tummy Troubles, if the moist quick bread had been refrigerated after cooking and warmed to serve, the bacterial contamination possibility would have been greatly reduced. Detective FoodSafe™ discarded all remaining blueberry quick bread to prevent further illness cases.
Nobody likes to feel bad, and especially not get sick, after eating, but it’s good to know that Detective Foodsafe™ is there when it does happen.