Avoid the Risks of Food Poisoning

If you have ever experienced food poisoning, for sure you are very careful what you put in your mouth. There are a few nasties that can take down even the strongest of humans. The most common bacteria that causes food poisoning are:

  • Salmonella (from raw eggs, poultry and vegetables that have been contaminated)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (commonly exists in the nose and can be spread on hands)
  • Campylobacter jejuni (from poultry, beef, unpasteurized milk, insects and untreated water)
  • E-coli (from meat or vegetables that have come in contact with the baterium)
  • Clostridium botulinum (bacteria that causes botulism usually from home-canned foods, especially beans and tomatoes)

It May Not Be Your Last Meal

Usually when a person gets food poisoning, they immediately think it is from the last meal that they ate. However, bacteria sometimes take quite a while to multiply enough to make you sick, and some people are more resistant to them. It may be two to three days from eating contaminated food until you start having symptoms.

However, if there is already a lot of bacteria in a food when you eat it, the stomach may react with vomiting to try to remove the poison within a short time.

Take these precautions when fixing food

  • Be sure to wash your hands, utensils and cooking surfaces often. Use warm, soapy water to wash your hands before and after handling or preparing food. Use hot, soapy water to wash the utensils, surfaces including the cutting boards and sink.
  • Safety starts even when you are shopping. Always be sure to keep raw meats separated from fresh fruits or vegetables. This will prevent cross contamination.
  • Make sure you refrigerate or freeze food that you have purchased within two hours. If the temperature is above 90 degrees within one hour. Leftover food should be refrigerated as soon as possible and used within two days. If you are in doubt, throw it out!!
  • Defrost food properly. You can run cold water over the food to thaw it, thaw it in the refrigerator or defrost in the microwave at 50 percent. Do not thaw at room temperature.
  • Be sure to cook the food to a high enough temperature (between 145 F – 165 F). Purchase a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Do not eat uncooked hotdogs, lunch or deli meat
  • Wash off all sprouts (bean, alfalfa, radish and clover)
  • Do not eat raw cookie dough, cake batter, or anything with raw eggs.

Food poisoning can be life threatening to those with weakened immune systems. This could include the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses.

Cooking with raw eggs

The US Food and Drug Administration recently ruled (2009) that those who sell eggs take certain precautionary steps during the production, storage and transport to prevent salmonella poisoning. Make sure the eggs you purchase have been Graded (preferably Grade A) pasteurized and have no cracks or other deformities. Bacteria can enter the egg with a crack even if it has been graded as okay.

Salmonella poisoning can make you very sick. It can cause long-term disabling conditions and even be fatal. Chronic arthritis, kidney failure, paralysis, seizures and mental disabilities have been connected to this toxic poisoning.

Certain foods, like mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauce are made with raw eggs. It is important that you refrigerate them and avoid eating leftover foods using these products.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

According to the Mayo Clinic, all foods contain a small amount of bacteria. However, if the food is handled improperly, not cooked long enough or have not been stored safely, the bacteria will multiply and can cause illness.

General symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gut pain
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

If the poisoning is particularly bad you could experience

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fainting or lightheadedness

What should you do if you have food poisoning?

  • Keep hydrated
  • Rest
  • Don’t take anti-diarrheal medication as your body needs to get rid of the poison

If you are sick longer than 48 hours or develop bloody stools:

  • Get emergency medical assistance
  • Call 911 if you feel weak and faint

If you suspect botulism, seek immediate medical assistance. Symptoms of botulism include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry mouth