FDA has recently released the second edition of the Bad Bug Book.
This is a great online reference for foodborne pathogens and toxins (bacteria, viruses, parasites, and natural toxins). There are 5 new chapters in this book – below is a quick summaries of each (as well as grayanotoxin). Each chapter also has an insert – For Consumers: A Snapshot – that provides an overview of each pathogen.
Cronobacter - Causes illness, including bacteremia and meningitis, primarily in infants and immocompromised adults. Can survive in low moisture foods, and has been an issue in powdered infant formulas. “The illness it causes is rare, but when it occurs, infants younger than 2 months old are at highest risk. The death rate is high, from 10 percent to 80 percent… It can then multiply after liquid is added to the formula, especially if the formula is stored at an incorrect temperature, and cause illness in babies who drink it..” To avoid illness in infants, it is important to follow food safety instructions when preparing infant formula.
Enterococcus, “Anyone can become infected with the Enterococcus bacterium, but the people most likely to suffer serious problems are those who already have other serious illnesses. In otherwise healthy people, it may cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills, starting 2 to 36 hours after they eat contaminated food. Enterococcus can be passed to people in different ways, and not much is yet known about how often it’s transmitted by food. But it is known that meat and milk that aren’t processed or cooked properly or that are handled in unsanitary ways are among the foods that can transmit it. A major concern about Enterococcus is that it has become resistant to some antibiotics that were used to treat it – that is, those antibiotics no longer kill it. You can help protect yourself from getting foodborne illness from this and other bacteria or viruses by following basic food-safety tips; for example, by not using unpasteurized (“raw”) milk or certain cheeses and other food made from it, by thoroughly cooking meat or food that contains meat, and by washing your hands, kitchen equipment, and other surfaces before and after you handle food.”
Francisella tularensis, “The bacterium Francisella tularensis causes a disease called tularemia (nicknamed “rabbit fever”). Tularemia can take different forms, depending on how the bacterium enters the body. If it enters through the mouth when a person eats or drinks contaminated food or water, it can cause tularemia that affects the throat or intestines, although this is an uncommon form of the disease. Symptoms of this type range from mild to severe in otherwise healthy people, and it rarely causes death. In the more serious cases, untreated throat infection may spread to vital organs (such as the lungs, brain, or liver), and may cause extensive bowel damage, with bleeding and infection of the bloodstream, especially in people with weak immune systems. People can develop tularemia of the throat or intestines by eating undercooked meat from an infected animal (particularly rabbits) or drinking contaminated water. Eating food or drinking water contaminated by animal waste, such as rodent droppings, also can cause this form of tularemia and many other diseases. Cooking food well is one of the safety tips that can help protect you from getting this form of tularemia, especially if you eat the kind of wild animals known to be carriers, such as rabbits.”
Phytohaemagglutinin, “Eating undercooked bean can cause you to have extreme nausea, severe vomiting, and diarrhea. They contain a protein that’s found naturally in many plants (and animals, including humans), where it performs important functions. But when it reaches high levels in some plants, particularly kidney beans, the protein can act as a toxin. Cooking the beans properly destroys the toxin. Don’t use slow cookers (the kinds of pots that you plug in and that cook food at low temperatures for several hours) to cook these beans or dishes that contain them. Slow cookers don’t get hot enough to destroy the toxin in kidney beans. Studies done by British scientists suggest that beans should be soaked in water for at least 5 hours, the water poured away, and the beans boiled in fresh water for at least 30 minutes.”
Venomous fish, “lionfish (Pterois volitans), a known venomous species from the Pacific Ocean, recently has become invasive and over-abundant along the U.S. south Atlantic coast and in the waters surrounding several Caribbean island countries, presenting new opportunities for human consumption.”
Grayanotoxins – “If bees make their honey from the pollen and nectar of flowers from some types of rhododendron, the honey may contain grayanotoxin, a substance poisonous to humans. Other plants from the same family that may contain it, in the Eastern part of the U.S., include mountain laurel and sheep laurel. Sickness that results from eating honey that contains grayanotoxin is sometimes called “mad honey” poisoning. It has occurred in the past in the U.S., but now appears to be very rare here. Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of grayanotoxin poisoning. A rarer symptom is burning, tingling, and numbness around the mouth. The toxin affects nerve cells, including not only the nerves that affect the brain, but also those that affect the heart and other muscles. For this reason, grayanotoxin poisoning causes not only problems like dizziness, weakness, confusion, vision disturbances, and heavy sweating and saliva flow, but also irregular or very slow heartbeat, low blood pressure, and fainting. These poisonings are rarely fatal.”