Health and Wellness: Bacteria and viruses in food

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of food poisoning. Symptoms and severity of food poisoning vary, depending on what has contaminated the food. Here are some details.

  • Bacillus cereus: Grows in foods that have sat out too long at room temperature.
  • Campylobacter: Found in unpasteurized (raw) milk, contaminated water, chicken, shellfish and turkey.
  • Hepatitis A: Spread through raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated waters, raw produce, contaminated drinking water, uncooked foods, and cooked foods not reheated after contact with an infected food handler.
  • Staphylococcal (Staph): Food handlers with Staph infection, commonly found on the skin, can contaminate food if they don't wash their hands before touching it. Also found on foods that aren’t cooked after handling.

Do you notice a pattern with the source of these food poisonings? To prevent illness, always follow the food safety rules of clean, separate, cook and chill. As a consumer at restaurants, delis and food trucks, be sure to watch for these practices. Food stands and trucks should have clean running water and a source of power for heating and cooling.

Food workers who also handle cash or card payments should not wear their gloves handling payments and then return to the food wearing the same gloves.