What happens if you consume undercooked food?
Updated: Apr 21
There could have been instances where you must have had undercooked chicken/meat-or even the veggies like your potatoes or yam. But, did you know, consuming uncooked or undercooked food can cause an intake of many bacterias and viruses which are harmful and dangerous to humans? This could be one of the probable reasons for the contagion of coronavirus. This article will take you through the details of all the different organisms that can enter our system after the consumption of undercooked food.
Before we go deep into the details of the organisms, I would like to discuss the standard temperatures for cooking and re-heating.
As depicted in the above picture, the DZT is the temperature range where there are higher chances of microbial growth, which leads to foodborne illnesses. The above image clearly explains the stages of microbial growth and destruction. Click on the link to read more and to understand the concept behind the Danger Zone Temperatures. The standard cooking temperature is a minimum of 65C of vegetarian food and a minimum of 70C for Non-Vegetarian food. The boiling or blanching has to be above 100C. Re-heating of any liquid or food has to reach a minimum of 75C. So what happens when the food is partially cooked or undercooked? This is where we introduce a host of viruses and bacterias that multiply to contaminate.
In general, we know that undercooked or raw meat and poultry can be contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as Campylobacter, E.coli, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Yersinia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. When ingested, these strains of bacteria can make you really sick. Typically, symptoms of contamination can include diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and a fever, per the CDC. This can strike between six and 24 hours after eating poorly cooked meat and last between 24 hours and many days depending upon the type of bacteria.
Uncooked seafood like Sushi– which is raw on its own, can have bacterias and parasites like anisakiasis, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Oysters carry viruses and bacteria from the water where they live. If they aren’t well-cooked, they can infect the people who eat them. Oysters can spread an infection called vibriosis, which can make you very sick. They can also spread hepatitis A, a virus that causes liver disease.
Consumption of uncooked poultry — eggs can introduce to bacteria such as Salmonella enteritidis. The infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
Flour/Dough. It’s tempting to consume it raw, but do know that they contain live E Coli. Ensure you wash hands thoroughly after using the flour.
Beans, Seeds, and Pulses are susceptible to many viruses; the most important is Beans Common Mosaic Virus (BCMV) and Bean Yellow Mosaic Virus (BYMV), Alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV), bean yellow mosaic virus (BYMV), Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), Pea seed-borne mosaic virus (PSbMV), Bean leafroll virus (BLRV), Beet western yellows virus (BWYV), Soybean dwarf virus (SDV) and Subterranean clover stunt virus (SCSV). Unless blanched/boiled well, the viruses will persist in multiplying and spreading.
E Coli present in contaminated food, especially undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized (raw) milk and juice, soft cheeses made from raw milk, and fresh fruits and vegetables (such as lettuce, other leafy greens, and sprouts). Contaminated water, including drinking untreated water and swimming in contaminated water. Symptoms are severe diarrhea that is often bloody, severe stomach pain, and vomiting, decreased urine production, dark or tea-colored urine, and facial pallor.
Norovirus present in undercookedshellfish, ready-to-eat foods touched by infected food workers (salads, sandwiches, ice, cookies, fruit), or any other foods contaminated with particles of vomit or feces from an infected person. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Diarrhea tends to be watery and non-bloody. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children. Highly contagious.
Staphylococcus aureus, usually present in those foods that are not cooked after handling. Food like bakery products, meat, and meat products, submarines, sandwiches.
Shigella occurs after contact with an infected person or consumption of contaminated food or water. Shigella foodborne outbreaks are most often associated with contamination by a sick food handler. Symptoms include Sudden stomach cramping, fever, diarrhea that may be bloody or contains mucus, nausea, and feeling the need to pass stool even when the bowels are empty.
Salmonella is present in undercooked vegetables, chicken, pork, fruits, nuts, eggs, beef, and sprouts.
Bacillus Cereus is present on that food that has been left outside under room/ambient temperature far too long. Always ensure that hot food consumed as early as possible and cold foods to be stored under refrigerated conditions. Ensure the food consumed within 2.5 hours after being prepared.
There is a higher possibility of one part of a continent to consuming uncooked food- especially those of meat/seafood/birds, which is highly dangerous when not cooked thoroughly — thereby giving time to incubate to the viruses/bacteria in human systems and to also infest other human systems in contact.
According to MedicalNewsToday, Coronaviruses are common in certain species of animals, such as cattle and camels. Although the transmission of coronaviruses from animals to humans is rare, this new strain likely came from bats. However, it remains unclear exactly how the virus first spread to humans. Some reports trace the earliest cases back to a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, a city in China, in December 2019. Some people who visited the market developed viral pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus. It is possible that bats transmitted the virus to some animals in the market or could also be because of the unsanitary and undercooked food consumed. It may have been from here that SARS-CoV-2 started to spread to humans. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. Droplets containing the virus can also land on nearby surfaces or objects. Other people can pick up the virus by touching these surfaces or objects. Infection is likely if the person then touches their nose, eyes, or mouth. It is important to note that COVID-19 is new, and research is still ongoing. There may also be other ways that the new coronavirus can spread.
Hence, it is recommended to use a thermometer especially while cooking meat and poultry food. Always better to read the instructions mentioned in the label thorough;y before cooking. It is always important and safe to consume appropriately cooked food which will contain the transmission of viruses and bacterias from plants/animal life to humans.