5 Common Foodborne Bacteria to Avoid

By EatingWell Editors, "5 Guests You Never Want to Have for Dinner," September/October 2009

Bad bacteria you don’t want lurking in your food.


4. Clostridium botulinum

Spore-forming bacteria that’s in soil and water and produces a nerve toxin that causes botulism. It is often found in improperly home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn. It also thrives in foods that are moist, left out at room temperature and/or have little exposure to oxygen; as a result, it has been found in honey, chopped garlic in oil and improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in foil. Damaged canned goods are particularly vulnerable.

Charges: Tricking people with early flulike symptoms, such as lethargy and muscle weakness, then bringing about double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and dry mouth. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food. Left untreated, symptoms may progress to irreversible paralysis.

Next: Campylobacter »

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