Food poisoning

Food Poisoning

Millions of people are affected by food poisoning every year and for several thousands of them food poisoning becomes lethal. Although for many people information about food poisoning seems trivial, it is surprising how many individuals do not take this information seriously. Food poisoning occurs due to consuming foods that are contaminated with toxins or bacteria which in turn produce poisonous substances. It should be remembered that in many cases these toxins and bacteria are undetectable by sight, smell or taste.

Symptoms

  • Usually occurs within 2-3 hours after consuming infected food or drink, but time may vary
  • The symptoms usually include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach or abdomen pains. Fever, cold sweat, headache and dehydration are among other symptoms.
Sources
Mishandling of any foods may result into food poisoning, but the latest reports provide a list of products that are mentioned in food poisoning reports more often. They are leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts and berries. Against the common belief meat and chicken are not among those products. Perhaps people take preparation of meat more seriously. Vegetables, however, are not taken as seriously and are not processed carefully enough.

Types of Food Poisoning
There are two types of food poisoning. Bacterial food poisoning is called so because bacteria are responsible for it. They are ingested along with the food. Non-bacterial food poisoning occurs mainly due to the present of toxic chemicals such as fertilisers, insecticides or heavy metals. Bacterial poisoning is more common.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning
Food can be contaminated with bacteria or toxins at any stage of the preparation process starting with farm or slaughterhouse and finishing with restaurant or your home. However, there are several rules that may help you to lower the chances of the occurrence of food poisoning.

  • When buying food at the store, make sure it looks fresh and does not show any signs of deterioration. Vegetables and greens should be firm and without any discolorations. Meat and fish should have a fresh colour without blemishes and should not have any undue odours. Don’t forget about due dates as well.
  • It is best to buy meat from a recognised slaughter house
  • Items that are not being used within an hour or so after purchasing should be refrigerated if they require storage in a cold place.
  • Foods like mussels and other shellfish must not be kept in an airtight bag, because they need to breathe. If they cannot breathe, they die.
  • Many foods can be frozen, but one has to remember that freezing does not kill the bacteria. It simply impedes their growth.
  • It is important to keep the food out of the “danger zone” – the temperature range between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the range in which bacteria thrive.
  • Many foods require washing before cooking or eating. However, it has to be remembered that washing only cleanses the surface of the food. It is heat, not water that kills the bacteria.
  • When cooking, do not rely on the cooking time mentioned in the recipe. Check the target temperature in order to make sure that the food has reached the necessary condition (preferably the condition when all bacteria are dead).
  • Kitchen sanitation should always be maintained. Wash your hands, knives, cutting boards and other utensils thoroughly, especially after handling protein foods.

In conclusion, keep your food safe and avoid food poisoning. It is easy! Really!

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