Can you get sick from eating someone else’s food?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “Can you get sick from eating someone else’s food?”. Moreover, we will discuss the health risks associated with sharing food and the diseases transferred by sharing food. 

Can you get sick from eating someone else’s food?

The answer is Yes, there is a possibility that you may get sick from eating someone else’s food. That is because there exist certain diseases that can be transferred through droplets or by hands when you share food with a person carrying the disease. 

Although there is a great significance of sharing food and in many parts of the world, eating from the same bowl is part of the culture, but we can not ignore the health risks associated with sharing or eating someone else’s food as one of the fastest ways by which germs can spread is by mouth. 

Does Saliva Have Health Risks?

There live hundreds of different microorganisms in our mouths. When we share the food we are exposed to someone else’s saliva. 

Sharing food is a high-risk contact that should be avoided especially in recent times of coronavirus outbreaks as there are high chances of the existence of coronavirus in saliva.

If someone carrying a disease sneezes or coughs, the droplets can fall onto a surrounding surface. When you are sharing food or eats someone else’s food, for instance, the droplets can fall on the food, cutlery, plate, or table. If you consume that food or touch that surface with a droplet containing the infection and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose, you can get sick.

Diseases transferred by eating someone else’s food

Some infections that can be transmitted by sharing food through your saliva are discussed below:

Viral Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)

Stomach flu can be caused by many different viruses, including the Norwalk virus, adenovirus, and rotavirus. It can be transferred by the body fluids of infected people, even before their symptoms appear by direct contact with an infected person. For example, you might get it by sharing food, or by eating from the same utensils or by hands.

The virus causes the stomach and intestine to swell, so they can not perform their function well and the food may move faster through the digestive tract.

If you have contracted the virus, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms within a few hours:

  • muscle aches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • stomach cramps 
  • diarrhoea
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Weakness
  • loss of appetite

Streptococcus bacteria (strep throat)

If you share food with someone infected with Streptococcus bacteria you may also get the infection if the person coughs or sneezes over the food or through his saliva.

Symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache and body aches 
  • Throat pain that usually develops quickly
  • Painful swallowing
  • Swollen and red tonsils containing pus
  • Red spots at the back of the soft or hard palate
  • Swollen lymph nodes 

Common cold 

It is caused by a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. It can be transferred by saliva or by eating someone else’s food, among other ways. Symptoms develop one to three days after exposure to the virus. These include:

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • body aches or headache
  • Sneezing
  • mild fever
  • General fatigue

The discharge from your nose may be clear at the start and turns thicker and yellow gradually.

Mumps 

Mumps is a contagious virtual infection that can be transmitted through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by sneezing, coughing or talking or by sharing food items that may have salivae on them.

Epstein-Barr virus (Mononucleosis)

The Epstein-Barr virus is transmitted through saliva, or by sharing food or glass with someone who has the virus. Symptoms develop within 4-6 weeks after exposure to the virus. These include:

  • Swollen tonsils
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Headache
  • Swollen, soft spleen

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can also be spread from person to person by saliva, sharing or eating someone else’s food and also through other body fluids, such as blood, urine, semen and breast milk. 

Most healthy individuals who are infected with the virus may experience no symptoms. However, people with the weekend immune system can experience problems in their eyes, brain, lungs, stomach, liver, oesophagus, intestines and brain.

Other infections that can be transferred from eating someone else’s food include the Influenza virus, Tuberculosis bacteria, Hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus, Type 1 herpes, Rhinovirus, and Ebola virus. However, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can not be transmitted through saliva.

So, it is better to avoid double-dipping a bitten crisp into a common bowl of sauces, sharing a bowl of popcorn while watching a movie together or licking the same ice cream.

Conclusion

In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question “Can you get sick from eating someone else’s food?”. Moreover, we will discuss the health risks associated with sharing food and the diseases transferred by sharing food. 

References 

https://www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu/HT/HT_gastroenteritis.html
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/sharing-food-meaning-with-friends

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.