Food Poisoning – Causes, Symptoms and Preventions

Food poisoning is a general term for health problems caused by eating contaminated food. Food may be contaminated by bacteria, viruses, toxins (poisons) from the environment, or toxins within the food itself. Symptoms of food poisoning usually include vomiting and diarrhea. Some toxins also affect the nervous system.

Foodborne illness results from eating food contaminated with bacteria (or their toxins) or other pathogens such as parasites or viruses. The illnesses range from upset stomach to more serious symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and dehydration.

Careless food handling during the trip from farm to table creates conditions for the growth of bacteria that make people sick. Vegetables that are eaten raw, such as lettuce, may be contaminated by bacteria in soil, water, and dust during washing and packing. Home canned and commercially canned food may be improperly processed at too low a temperature or for too short a time to kill the bacteria.

Symptoms Of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is the term used to describe a sudden disorder caused by consuming food or drink that may taste normal but is contaminated with a poisonous organism. The diagnosis of food poisoning is easily made if a group of people all develop the same symptoms, usually vomiting and diarrhea, after they have consumed the same food or drink. The symptoms may start hours or days after consuming the food in question. Usually the symptoms are confined to the gastrointestinal tract. However, some food poisoning may cause more widespread symptoms. For example, the Clostridium Botulinum bacterium (Botulism) causes muscle weakness and paralysis, and Listeriosis may cause flu-like symptoms and lead to meningitis.

Food Poisoning Causes

More than 200 known diseases can be transmitted through food. Those are just the ones we know about. The CDC estimates unknown or undiscovered agents cause 81% of all food-borne illnesses and related hospitalizations. Many cases of food poisoning are not reported because people suffer mild symptoms and recover quickly. Also, doctors do not test for a cause in every suspected case because it does not change the treatment or the outcome.

The common Causes of Food Poisoning :

• Toxic agents include poisonous mushrooms, improperly prepared exotic foods (such as barracuda), or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.

• Fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed or irrigated with water that is contaminated with animal manure or human sewage. Staph food poisoning and shigellosis are often spread through contaminated water.

Prevention of Food Poisoning

Wash hands with hot, soapy water before handling any food. Rewash hands after handling raw meat, poultry or eggs.
Wash produce before eating, including produce with inedible skins or rinds. Knives can drag microbes into the interior of melons.
Prevent cross-contamination of foods by using separate cutting boards for raw meat and cooked foods or produce. Sanitize plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher, and reserve wooden cutting boards for cooked foods.
The most common treatment for simple food poisoning is simply supportive care at home with clear liquids to stay hydrated, and after vomiting or diarrhea subside, the gradual return to eating beginning with a bland diet(such as rice, bread, potatoes and milk).