Food Poisoning

Are you one of those who store food for days or weeks and consume it later? Do you keep adding food products to your basket without checking the expiry date or quality? If yes, then you are literally inviting the harmful bacteria and other microbes to make you sick for days causing food poisoning. While mild cases can be treated at home, if it becomes severe, food poisoning can cause some serious complications.
What is Food Poisoning?
Foodborne illness or food poisoning is the disease caused by eating spoiled or contaminated food. Microbes such as bacteria, parasites, viruses and other chemicals and toxins may contaminate the food during its production, preparation and sometimes even after it is cooked and kept for days.
Food poisoning can cause complications like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea which may start within the hours of consuming the contaminated food and in some cases, become severe in a few days.

The symptoms of food poisoning vary with the source of infection. 
Some common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weakness, mild fever & headache 

The severe cases of food poisoning cause symptoms like:

  • Diarrhoea for 3 days and more 
  • High fever 
  • Dry mouth, difficulty in keeping the fluids down
  • Blood in urine or in some cases
  • Passing little to no urine 

Food poisoning is caused by microbes like viruses, bacteria and parasites.
They can contaminate the food at any stage from Raw to Cooked.

The bacterias that cause food poisoning include:  

  • Salmonella 
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • E.coli 
  • Shigella 
  • Vibrio Vulnificus 

The parasites that cause food poisoning include:

  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • Tapeworms 
  • Giardia lamblia 
  • Cryptosporidium 
  • Flatworms 
  • Trichinella 

The Viruses that cause food poisoning include: 

  • Rotavirus 
  • Norovirus 
  • Sapovirus 
  • Astrovirus 
  • Hepatitis A virus 

Some of the factors that help these microbes to multiply are : 

  • Temperature (between  5°C & 60°C)
  • Presence of certain nutrients 
  • Excess water 
  • Food kept unattended and uncovered for a prolonged time 
  • Neutral pH of the food

Food contamination is not limited to only animal-produced foods, prepared and processed foods, fruits and vegetables can also be potentially dangerous. The contaminated foods might also taste and smell good but still make you sick. 
Some of these high-risk foods include: 

  • Eggs and egg products 
  • Raw and undercooked meat as well as the foods containing them
  • Leafy greens and vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes etc. 
  • Unpasteurized dairy products 
  • Seafood 
  • Cooked pasta and rice
  • Prepared fruit salad
  • Ready-to-eat foods like pizza, rolls, sandwiches etc.
  • Deli meats such as ham, bacon, hot dogs etc. 

Food poisoning can happen to anyone. But some people are more prone to the risk. These include: 

  • Infants and young children: due to the underdevelopment of immune system.
  • Pregnant women: due to the changes in metabolism and circulatory system during pregnancy
  • Immunocompromised people: people with a suppressed immune system or autoimmune diseases have greater risks of getting down with infections and complications. 
  • Older adults: their immune system fail to respond quickly to infectious organisms. 

Food poisoning can not be prevented by merely taking precautions with food. You need to follow some other measures to prevent food poisoning, like: 

  • Keep the raw foods separate from processed ready-to-eat foods:  It prevents cross-contamination. 
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands with warm soapy water before touching the food items. Clean the utensils properly with hot soapy water and kitchen surfaces with disinfectants. 
  • Avoid washing raw meat and poultry: Washing them can cause the bacteria to spread to other foods and surfaces. 
  • Cook food thoroughly at a safe temperature: Undercooked and overcooked foods are at risk of contamination. Cooking the food thoroughly at the right temperature kills harmful bacteria and keeps the food safe. 
  • Refrigerate and defrost the foods safely: Keep the perishable foods in the refrigerator to prevent them from rotting or spoiling. Most of the fruits, vegetables, dairy, and poultry should be stored at a cold temperature to keep them in better quality. 
  • Throw out the spoiled food: Rotten, spoiled and expired foods should not be consumed. Throw them out immediately to prevent the infection and to stop the microbes from spreading. Sometimes even fine-looking and smelling foods are not safe to eat, so don’t even taste them if you are unsure. 

Early intervention can help you prevent the infection from becoming severe. Connect with the expert gastroenterologists at Sarvodaya’s Centre for Liver and Digestive Sciences to get the best solutions for preventing and treating food poisoning. 

Book your appointment online or call 18003131414

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