Public Release: 

Is the American public at increased risk for food poisoning?

Changes in lifestyle and eating habits could lead to greater exposure to toxic organisms

American Association for Clinical Chemistry

Orlando, FL - Walking into a fast food restaurant or a seafood diner could be a high risk proposition. Most people would scoff at that notion but for 8,000 Americans last year, eating contaminated food led to death. At the beginning of the 21st century, one would expect improved sanitary conditions to eliminate the threat of food poisoning. But even in advanced nations, the public can be at threat water supplies contaminated by pesticides, a salmonellosis epidemic in New England eggs, salmonellosis in Illinois milk, and listeriosis, found in California-Mexican cheese.

Sanitary conditions may have improved in this country. But increased globalization, increased travel by Americans, and the growing popularity of gourmet cooking has led to exposure to food groups that may be inherently toxic. The warning signs for some food types, such as mushrooms, are well known. But the public would be surprised to find a yellow flag hoisted for a wide range of foods and food components. They include whole wheat flour, potassium chloride, thiamine, vitamin A (too little), raw eggplant, raw egg whites, iron supplements, caffeine (iron), magnesium (renal), and raw cabbage (iodine)

Presenting "Food Poisoning" is Donald J. Cannon, PhD, from Quest Diagnostics Inc., Teterboro, New Jersey. His presentation will be held during the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC). AACC (http://www.aacc.org/) is the scientific organization for clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, and research scientists. More than 11,000 attendees are expected for the meeting, which is being held at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL, July 28-August 1, 2002.

Dr. Cannon will discuss the following:

  • The sources of food poisoning are animal (virus, bacteria, parasite, fish); plant (solanine, oleander, pokeweed, mushroom); and chemical (MSG, mercury, nitrosamines).
  • Types of food poisoning are: bacterial (Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Clostridium, Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, Yersinia, Clostridium botulinum, Vibrio, Shigella; viral (rotavirus, parvovirus, enteric adenovirus, hepatitis A, Norwalk virus; as well as marine and parasitic sources.
  • Americans should be wary of a number of exotic and generally well known marine life, including gymnothorax (eel), neurotoxin; tetrodon (blow fish), tetrodotoxin; shellfish (oyster), saxitoxin (paralytic). Simple house plants and those from the garden can be a source of food poisoning.
  • Treatments can include hydration, emetics, antibiotics, antiperistaltics, secretory inhibitors, and hospitalization.
  • The common microorganisms are Campylobacter jejuni found in poutry, milk, water and causing diarrhea, paralysis; Salmonella, in eggs, poultry, and meat resulting in dysentery; Listeria monocytogenes in cheese and deli cuisine, leading to fevers and headaches; Cryptosporidium parvum in fecally contaminated water and food, causing diarrhea; and Vibrio, shellfish that can cause flu, shock, and death.

Dr. Cannon's presentation will contribute to early identification of organisms leading to food poisoning that may result in severe illness or death.

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Editor's Note: To interview Dr. Cannon, please contact Donna Krupa at 703.527.7357 (direct dial), 703.967.2751 (cell) or djkrupa1@aol.com.
Or contact the AACC Newsroom at: 407.685.4215.

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