Food poisoning is an unfortunate after effect of eating poorly cooked meats or other subpar ingredients. Unfortunately, this covers all foods and you have to be careful where you purchase food along with proper preparation. So, this bears the question: can you get food poisoning from pizza?
Yes, you most definitely can. We will discuss the most common types of food poisoning from parasites, bacteria, and viruses as well as other toxins. This includes some tips to prevent food poisoning and the steps to take if you suspect it.
Understand, however, that even though food poisoning can occur in pizza, it’s not common. But, you always want to ensure safety and take the necessary precautions to avoid it.
Types of Food Poisoning from Pizza
All the main types of food poisoning can occur from consuming a pizza improperly prepared. The following are the most common:
The number one cause of food poisoning from pizza is Salmonella. This is a bacterial infection living in the intestinal tracts of animals. Transmission occurs due to foods contaminated with zoological feces. All aspects of a pizza can succumb to Salmonella, including the meat, cheese, veggies and the dough.
Contamination can also come from dirty hands and failing to wash hands after touching pets. So, the best way to prevent Salmonella is to thoroughly wash hands before preparing the pizza and cleaning all applicable toppings. Also, be sure to buy all ingredients fresh and return any pies that look suspicious at a restaurant.
For instance, a classic telltale sign that chicken on your pizza may contain Salmonella is by a pink, uncooked appearance.
E. Coli is another top contributor for answering the question, “can you get food poisoning from pizza?” This is also a bacteria that lives in the intestines of both people and animals. While most E. coli are important for a healthy digestive tract, some types are pathogenic and create toxicity.
Meat, especially ground beef, is the prime target and this can occur during slaughter. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to tell if E. coli is present since it looks and smells normal. The only way to ensure there are no bacteria is to cook the meat all the way through. This will kill off any potential E. coli.
Also, unwashed hands infected with the bacterium can transmit it to other people. Therefore, wash all meat thoroughly along with hands.
Other Bacterial Infections
A number of other bacterial infections can cause food poisoning in pizza. Some of these include:
- Campylobacteriosis: A diarrheal disease caused by poultry infected with spores called campylobacter.
- Clostridium: This is a bacteria found in many meats and vegetables used as toppings on pizza, such as sausage.
- Perfringens: Another spore-based bacteria that can infect all aspects of a pizza, including dough and toppings.
- Listeria Monocytogenes: One of the most virulent food borne pathogens, Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis. This means the dairy used in the pizza was raw and not well pasteurized.
- Shigella dysenteriae: This bacteria causes dysentery and often comes from unwashed hands by the person preparing the pizza.
Yet another potential threat for pizza to cause food poisoning are the many different parasites that can contaminate any aspect of the pie. However, the typical ones come from contaminated or undercooked meat. The following parasitic infections are some of the most common:
- Toxoplasma Gondii: This parasite infects any warm-blooded animal and can multiply in a warm, moist environment.
- Toxocara Spp.: Otherwise known as “dog roundworm,” this parasite often associates with canines. But, it can creep into food preparation if the cook/chef doesn’t wash their hands after touching a pup.
- Trichinella Spiralis: Contraction of this parasite results in trichinosis. It often comes from infected pork.
- Giardia Lamblia (trichomonads): This is a vicious parasite that can live and reproduce in the human digestive tract. It comes from foods infected with human feces or untreated water.
Of course, certain viral infections are a form of food poisoning and pizza isn’t safe from them. Contaminated water and unwashed hands are the main culprits to spread things like Hepatitis A, Norwalk-like viruses and enteroviruses, such as hand, foot and mouth disease.
Toxins ; Chemicals
Sometimes, food poisoning can occur from toxins and chemicals like cyanide, nitrates and botulinum toxin. Unfortunately, these occur naturally in many pizza toppings and go undetected by many food safety-testing procedures.
Tips to Prevent Contracting Food Poisoning from Pizza
Because there’s a risk of contracting food poisoning from pizza, you have to be diligent and cautious before eating it. There are several tips to consider when dining out or when preparing the pizza at home. No matter where you eat the pie, make sure you always wash your hands first.
Always frequent pizzerias and other restaurants with a good reputation for cleanliness. You can look up your target location at your local health department or board of health. They usually have a score that you can evaluate on whether to eat at the place or not.
Also, once your pizza arrives, you’ll want to inspect it for anything that looks undercooked, raw or suspicious in any way. Check for pink chicken, bloody sausage and etc. If there’s anything questionable about the look, smell and texture of the pizza, return it ASAP.
When preparing fresh pizza at home, you can do several things to ensure you prevent anyone from contracting food poisoning. Aside from washing your hands before touching any pans, utensils or food, you must wash all your ingredients thoroughly.
While you won’t clean off some meats like bacon, ground beef or sausage links, you will for things like whole chicken and vegetables. You also want to ensure you use clean water in the dough or for cleaning pizza toppings. Therefore, you should use quality filtered or reverse osmosis water.
Finally, cook the pizza all the way through until the cheese and other toppings are bubbly and golden brown. So, make sure you prebake the crust before you add the toppings to make sure the dough doesn’t get soggy while killing off any potential viruses, bacteria and parasites.
What to Do If Food Poisoning Occurs
Even when you take all the necessary precautions, food poisoning can still occur. So, pay attention to how you feel throughout your time consuming it. If you begin to feel sick or there’s a sensation of upset in the digestive tract, immediately stop eating and drinking anything.
Then, wait about six to 12 hours to see if your symptoms worsen and don’t eat or drink anything during this time. If you experience diarrhea, vomiting and/or nausea, call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Usually, they’ll supply you with medications and a strict diet to follow.
To answer the question, “can you get food poisoning from pizza?” Yes, you can. While it isn’t too common, it can happen from things like contaminated toppings, sauce or dough along with unwashed hands.
But, if you take the necessary precautions beforehand, it’ll be just fine to eat. When you suspect anything questionable, don’t eat the pizza. In the event you suspect food poisoning, go to the emergency room ASAP.