Food Poisoning

When the calendar turns to the warm weather months, it’s time for cookouts, barbecues, picnics, and other outdoor get togethers. It’s also a time when the threat of food poisoning increases. Basically, food poisoning happens when a person eats food that has been contaminated with bacteria or other toxins. The most common bacteria is E. coli. But, Staph aureus, E. coli enteritis, Salmonella, Bacillus cereus, Shigella, Listeria, and Cholera also cause food poisoning.

Food becomes contaminated most often when it hasn’t been prepared or stored properly. If the preparer’s hands are dirty, the utensils or containers aren’t sanitary, or the area the food is prepared at is unclean, food poisoning can occur. Another cause is when meats aren’t cooked long enough. And, if foods- especially dairy products- aren’t kept refrigerated, bacteria can easily form, and food poisoning can affect the people who eat the food.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning are nausea and vomiting. Abdominal distress is also common, as is Diarrhea. The sufferer may also experience fever, chills, fatigue, and a headache. After a person eats contaminated food, the symptoms of food poisoning typically appear within two to six hours. However, that time frame may be shorter or longer, depending on the amount of bacteria in the food, and the amount eaten.

Treatment for food poisoning generally includes drinking plenty of water and other fluids. This practice helps prevent dehydration. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps flush the toxic bacteria from a person’s body. Dairy products, which can contribute to nausea, vomiting, and Diarrhea, should be avoided. Typically, the symptoms of food poisoning will disappear in a day or two.

If you experience a high fever, or the symptoms don’t let up after a day or two, call your healthcare professional or visit the emergency room at your local hospital for additional treatment.

Food poisoning often occurs when foods are left out in the heat, like at cookouts, barbecues, picnics, and other outdoor get togethers. However, that’s not the only time that bacteria can contaminate foods. To protect yourself, your family, and meal guests, wash your hands often when you’re preparing foods. Use only clean utensils and containers. Prepare food in a sanitary area.

Also, when cooking meats on the barbecue grill, or on the stove inside your house, use a meat thermometer to make sure they are cooked thoroughly. Never place cooked meats on the same plate you had raw meats on without washing the plate with soapy water and rinsing it first.

To help prevent food poisoning, keep dairy products and cold salads refrigerated until the meal is served. Then, if the foods are set outside, they should be kept on ice until they are refrigerated again.

Avoid eating foods that are discolored, or don’t look or smell right.

And finally, discard any food products that have reached their expiration date.
Don’t use cans that have dents or dings in them, and discard foods that have broken seals. If you’re not sure about a food product’s freshness, help prevent food poisoning and don’t eat it.

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