Campylobacter, E. coli, Hepatitis A: eat raw seafood with awareness

oyster sea food safery raw

There are numerous shellfish we eat that, living in the sea, filter daily liters and liters of water. The filtration in itself carries the risk of collecting large amounts of bacteria, metals, toxins and other pollutants that could endanger your health.

Most of them is equipped with a trap to the plankton rich water ingress and one to take out the water out after being fed. It is estimated for example that a mussel filters, in 12 hours, as many as 50 liters of water.

Think, for example, the environment in which many shellfish are cultivated, the lagoon, it is a perfect ecosystem for these animals because it allows them to live in water with low salinity and have numerous food sources available. On the other hand it is also the ideal growing environment for campylobacter which causes gastroenteritis.



Campylobacter jejuni food safetyCAMPYLOBACTER

It has an incubation period for humans takes 2 to 5 days, after which patients complain of symptoms such as watery diarrhea (bloody), abdominal pain, fever, myalgia, headache, prostration and nausea. Since many other enteric pathogens lead to having the same kind of symptoms it is difficult to understand that this is the Campylobacter.

The symptoms are caused by very powerful enterotoxins which are liberated by the bacterium and are responsible for a food poisoning that severely damages the cells of the intestinal mucosa and facilitates bacterial invasion.

Even the severity of symptoms is variable, if taken with low bacterial charge and in mild form the disease may be asymptomatic, while in the more stringent can assume aspects similar to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.




Another practical example is Escherichia coli which is very easy to find in polluted environments and that causes food poisoning.


escherichia coli bacteria food safetyESCHERICHIA COLI

After 10-60 hours from when it has been infected, you get warning symptoms, in some cases it has also to a variable incubation period of between 3 and 6 days. It ‘s very difficult to see immediately what the problem is, it is generally experienced a slight non-hemorrhagic diarrhea that may or may not result in a slight fever and abdominal pain. For these reasons it can be mistaken for a simple case of diarrhea. The situation does not improve over time and after 24-48 hours diarrhea increases in intensity and lasts for a long period of time (3-10 days), often accompanied by blood in the stool. You will normally don’t have a fever but the abdominal pain and become more intense and because of the continuous discharge will become progressively more dehydrated.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)

HUS is a complication of infection with Escherichia coli O157: H7. It is a very serious form of kidney failure, more common in the very young and the elderly, in some cases resulting in death despite intensive care (about 50% of these patients requiring dialysis).

This syndrome usually comes a week after it appeared the first gastrointestinal symptoms and results in acute renal failure and a diffuse swelling.

Luckily the infection caused by Escherichia coli O157: H7 typically resolves spontaneously without taking medication. In the less severe forms it is recommended to rest a lot and taking plenty of fluids to go to recover salts and water that have been lost due to diarrhea.

Diet also plays an important role, it is good to return to your standard diet gradually. Are recommended foods such as rice, crackers and dry cereals that contain a low amount of fiber and are not recommended fat and high-fiber foods that will be reintroduced gradually.


Bacteria are not the only problem related to the consumption of raw seafood. In fact, they are also the foods most often implicated in overt cases of hepatitis A.

HEPATITIS A is a highly contagious disease that affects the liver; a small RNA virus called HAV (or hepatitis A) is responsible for it. It is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated foods and beverages or by coming into direct contact with infected people.

These are just three examples but in reality the number of risks related to raw fish (and we do not move into the speech parasites) also includes:

  • Food Infection with Salmonella Typhi and Paratiphi: responsible for typhoid fever and salmonellosis.
  • The food-born cholera: basically epidemic disease originated from Vibrio cholerae
  • The Foodborne Outbreak of Vibrio Parahaemoliticus, which particularly affects Japan

mussel cozze seafood food safety


The rumor of lemon juice:

Perhaps due to its taste so decided, or the fact that it burns when applied to wounds, has meant that many people are convinced that lemon juice is a good disinfectant for raw seafood.

The reality is that the lemon has no anti-infection and antimicrobial properties so it is not able to eliminate germs, bacteria and viruses that may be present in food. In the same way it is not grateful to prevent poisoning.


How can we defend ourselves against these threats without sacrificing the seafood?

To be sure to eat a product without risk we have to cook for at least 15 minutes and / or prefer the ones that come from the establishments being checked and have undergone thorough inspection.

In addition, Italy, due to the significant number of cases of parasitic infections in 1997 were enacted a series of laws for the food and catering industry. Thanks to these regulations today is explicitly forbidden the sale and supply of raw fish if not previously felled thermally at temperatures of -20 ° C for at least 24 hours.
A rule that everyone should respect




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