Food Poisoning Explained
Food poisoning is one of the life threatening illness can cause accidentally eating or drinking food or beverages infected with bacteria, virus or parasite directly or by their spores or through their extremely harmful secretion known as toxin. The most common food that is prone to infection is perishable raw meat, chicken, fish, and eggs. Although these are not the only list, any food can be infected if it is kept long time outside in room temperature. Even refrigerated food can also be harmful if it is kept several days before consumption.
Causes of Food Poisoning
We cannot blame any single process responsible for food contamination. Food contamination can usually happen at any point during processing the food like growing, harvesting, storing, shipping or packaging. The organism can easily fly from one food to another causing mass contamination in the same place processing different kind of food. Therefore it is always recommended to be cautious with the quality of ready to eat fruit, salad or vegetables or raw food. Heating or washing is the key processes that destroy harmful organisms.
Most common pathogens causes food poisoning are:
Campylobacter -Usually found in meat and poultry. Contamination usually occurs during processing if animal feces contact meat surfaces. Other food includes unpasteurized milk or contaminated beverages
Clostridium botulinum - Usually found in canned food with low ph, canned fish product like smoked salmon, tuna salad, canned caviar etc.
Clostridium perfringens -Usually found in Meats, stews and gravies
Escherichia coli - Can be found in any food contaminated with fecal matter. Spread mainly by undercooked ground meat or meat product. Other potential sources include unpasteurized milk and apple cider, sprout, tomato etc or contaminated water.
Listeria sp- Usually found in hot dog, lunch-meat, cheese and unwashed raw fruit or vegetables.
Salmonella sp -Now a day this organism is causing havoc by contaminating eggs and tomatoes. Improper cooking does not eradicate them.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Usually the symptoms vary depending on the type of organism. Most common signs are nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps and fever. The most common types of food poisoning usually show their symptoms within 2 - 6 hours after eating. Dehydration is the one and only thing we should definitely try to avoid during food poisoning. As vomiting and watery diarrhea are predominant symptoms during food poisoning, we should definitely avoid this by replenishing the victim with lot of water or fluid. It is always good idea to consult your local doctor to control such situation.
How to Prevent Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning can be easily avoided by taking care of simple steps like handling, storing and preparing your food. When eating out, make a critical evaluation to the condition of food and environmental hygiene. By taking small initiatives in our home like freeze thawing food in recommended condition, cleaning our hand and using clean dishes and utensils, properly washing all the food and properly cooking raw meat or poultry produce, can keep us miles away from food poisoning.