What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning comes from eating foods that contain germs like bad bacteria or toxins, which are poisonous substances. Bacteria are all around us, so mild cases of food poisoning are common. You may have had mild food poisoning — with diarrhea and an upset stomach — but your mom or dad just called it a stomach bug or stomach virus.
Food borne illness is an ever-present threat that can be prevented with proper care and handling of food products. It is estimated that between 24 and 81 million cases of food borne diarrhea disease occur each year in the United States, costing between $5 billion and $17 billion in medical care and lost productivity.
Food poisoning: Common causes
Most foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria that pose no harm to people. But when food is poorly handled, improperly cooked or inadequately stored, bacteria can multiply quickly and cause food poisoning.
Food handlers must avoid contaminating foods
Good personal hygiene is required
Cover wounds and cuts with waterproof dressings
Until required for service chill food.
How is it diagnosed?
To diagnose food poisoning, your doctor will examine you, study your symptoms, and ask about the foods you have eaten within the last few days before symptoms began. It is also important to know if other people ate the same foods, and if they are showing any symptoms. To confirm a diagnosis and determine which type of bacterium is causing your symptoms, your doctor will ask for a stool (bowel movement) sample, which will be tested in a laboratory. You may also need to have blood tests. If the contaminated food is available, it, too, will be tested.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Food poisoning can affect one person or it can occur as an outbreak in a group of people who all ate the same contaminated food.
Food poisoning tends to occur at picnics, school cafeterias, and large social functions. These are situations where food may be left unrefrigerated too long or food preparation techniques are not clean. Food poisoning often occurs from eating undercooked meats, dairy products, or food containing mayonaise (like coleslaw or potato salad) that have sat out too long.
Campylobacter is a bacterial pathogen that causes fever, diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps. It is the most commonly identified bacterial cause of diarrhoeal illness in the world. These bacteria live in the intestines of healthy birds, and most raw poultry meat has Campylobacter on it. Eating undercooked chicken, or other food that has been contaminated with juices dripping from raw chicken is the most frequent source of this infection.
All cases of food poisoning have to be reported to the local authority (usually the Environmental Health Office) by your GP. The local authority will investigate the cause and if necessary take precautions to prevent it happening again. In serious cases, they will also warn the public about any likely risks and what measures to take to avoid it. They also have the power to prosecute the person or people responsible for causing the food poisoning if they have breached food safety regulations.