Did you ever feel stomach pain and other intestinal problems after eating a certain food that you found out later was contaminated?
Food borne illness also called food poisoning comes from eating contaminated food. Bacteria cause most cases of Food borne illnesses usually due to improper food handling. But foods can also be contaminated by viruses and parasites too. Yet bacteria are the main cause of Food borne illnesses. That is why keeping bacteria under control is vital for your health.
What are the symptoms Food borne Illnesses?
Symptoms may vary from fatigue, chills, a mild fever, dizziness, headaches, an upset stomach and diarrhea to dehydration, severe cramps, vision problems, and in certain cases may have serious health implications. People are different, so after eating the same contaminated food you may react differently from another person. One person may show no symptoms, while the other may get very ill. The reaction depends on the type of bacteria or toxin, how extensively the food was contaminated, how much food was eaten and the person’s susceptibility to the bacteria.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can be a victim of Food borne illnesses. But few people are at increased risk like young children, pregnant women, older people and those with a weak immune system.
How to prevent Food borne illnesses?
With proper food handling and sanitation, most Food borne illnesses can be prevented by keeping these rules in mind:
- Keep food clean: Keep everything that comes in contact with food clean. Frequent hand washing is very important while you prepare food. Use clean towels, sponges, cooking dishes and utensils. Scrub counters and sanitize cutting boards between food preparation steps. Keep the washed utensils and cutting board’s air dry.
- Keep hot food hot: Cook and hold cooked foods at temperatures higher than 70 degree Celcius. High temperatures kill most bacteria. Temperatures between 60 and 70 degree Celcius prevent their growth but may let bacteria survive. Cooked foods containing meat, poultry, fish, eggs and milk products should never be allowed to sit at room temperature for longer than two hours.
- Keep cold food cold: Rapidly cool any cooked foods that are to be served cold or refrigerated to 5 degrees Celcius or below. At this temperature, bacteria that spoil food grow slowly. Below 0 degrees Celcius, which is freezing, bacteria will survive but won’t grow. So if you do not want to consume the food within a couple of days, it is better to freeze it. Follow safe handling instructions on food packages and labels.
- When eating out: Choose restaurants that are reputable in their hygiene and cleanliness. Moreover, avoid raw meats or slightly cooked foods.
If you suspect food is contaminated, don’t even taste it! You can’t smell or taste bacteria that can cause Food borne illnesses. Securely wrap the suspected food and discard it where no one can get to it.