The dangers in our food and soil. 

Food isn’t sterile; it comes from animals or grows in soil. If we are healthy adults, our immune systems can deal with small numbers of bacteria and viruses but at higher levels they can make us quite sick. So just what are the dangers and what can we get

Food poisoning is more frequently caused by bacteria. Bacteria like to grow in the ‘temperature danger zone’ between 5°C and 60°C. Their numbers can double and redouble and in a few hours they can reach dangerous levels. Lets not fool ourselves, no matter how clean we are bacteria can be found on the human body,within the air you


breathe, in water and even in soil. Harmful bacteria found within soil can cause potential harm to humans, plants and trees. Some forms of bacteria can produce poisonous toxins, which can be fatal if the spores of such bacteria are inhaled, ingested or transferred through a wound.

The Bacillus Species, for example. There are a few variety of Bacillus. Bacillus cereus is a bacteria commonly found in soil. B. cereus is capable of withstanding extreme conditions, such as heat so in this case the  temperature danger zone is immaterial, and it is worth knowing that food grown in soil containing B. cereus can become susceptible to contamination. It is also possible to inhale aggravated B. cereus spores, or have spores enter broken skin when you don't wear gloves while gardening.

Did you know you can be contaminated with Anthrax when gardening! Anthrax can survive for years within soil. When the bacterium produces spores, the potential for contamination becomes possible plus the spores can be disturbed during gardening and the inhalation of spores from contaminated soil can result in illness.

Listeria is the name of a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk. It can also live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats.  Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator again meaning the temperature danger zones do not apply, however, the good news is it can be killed by cooking and pasteurization. It is also found in raw sprouts so if there was ever a good reason not to eat them this may be it!

Legionnaires' disease, specifically, Legionella longbeachae, can be found in potting soil, and people occasionally catch the illness from the soil. However, this is very rare in the UK . Just minimise any risk by always wearing gloves and ensuring you wash your hands after, no matter how clean you think your hands are.


We all know the symptoms of foodborne illnesses which include:

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • diarrhoea

  • stomach cramps

  • headaches

  • fever

Generally the illness only lasts one or two days. Obviously there are a few acceptations to this rule  but lets face it, most, or all of us will experience food poisoning at some point in our lives, lets try and minimise the risk by always washing our hands. If you are in a restaurant and something raises a red flag about it, don’t be afraid to leave. Better your health than any possible discomfort at leaving before ordering or the meal arrives!