A3 Guidelines For Investigating Food Borne Illness Al General Information

a. Food is defined as a substance taken or absorbed in the body of an organism in order to sustain growth and repair, support vital processes and furnish energy for all activities of the organism. Though it is usually considered necessary for the preservation and maintenance of good health, there are several instances in which food may be harmful to an individual's health.

b. Food can affect health as a result of:

(1) Hypersensitivity or allergic conditions in which individuals will exhibit symptoms of an allergic reaction usually immediately upon ingestion of the food. The symptoms range from lip swelling, mild rash, angioedema to anaphylactic shock.

(2) Enzymes and other deficiency conditions in which the complete absence or abnormal function of an enzyme or substrate of a specific metabolic process will result in the abnormal processing of certain food. An example is lactase deficiency. In individuals who are deficient in this intestinal mucosal enzyme which catalyzes the breakdown of lactose, the ingestion of milk (which contains lactose) will result in abdominal cramping, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. This generally results in the abnormal accumulation of certain metabolites and deficiency of others.

(3) Contamination in which the food serves as a major vehicle for transmission of diseases in the population. Production and processing of food creates many opportunities for contamination before it reaches the consumer.

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