Around the world, millions of people eat food that contains parasites, viruses, or bacteria.
The result can be often food poisoning, which is a very uncomfortable experience characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
The contamination usually happens when drinks or foods come in contact with organisms in fecal matter. Raw foods are common sources of illness since they don’t go through the cooking process. When food is cooked, the heat often kills pathogens.
In a lot of animal-processing facilities, due to the crowded conditions, meat, dairy products, and eggs are often contaminated. However, a lot of these contaminants are killed when these foods are pasteurized or cooked.
But, in some cases, viruses or bacteria can survive. Organisms that cause illness may also be found in water, especially in countries where water is not well managed.
Food poisoning is typically caused by one of the following:
Botulism is a serious but rare illness that is caused by bacteria that grow in foods that were improperly preserved or canned.
This type of bacteria can be found in the intestines of animals. Salmonella can live in animal products like eggs and meat. If you cook your foods at high temperatures all Salmonella which is present should be killed.
Escherichia Coli is a bacteria that can be found in the intestines of all animals and humans. When ingested, certain strains can cause illness. During processing, this bacteria may contaminate the meat. Also, E. Coli can seep into foods that aren’t prepared safely.
This contagious virus is responsible for more than half of all cases of food poisoning. Usually, norovirus is spread by unsanitary food preparation. This virus can be spread if cooks or servers don’t wash their hands before touching food.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Symptoms of food poisoning can vary depending on the source of contamination. A lot of types of food poisoning are caused by one or several symptoms, which are:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Watery diarrhea
Symptoms of food poisoning can start within a few hours after eating the food which has been contaminated, or from a few days to several weeks later. However, sickness caused by food poisoning often lasts from several hours to a few days.
Diagnose and Treatment
A lot of cases of food poisoning are resolved within a few days. Cases of food poisoning which cause severe symptoms can require medical treatment. Also, if symptoms are prolonged, medical treatment may also be necessary.
Your doctor may diagnose the type of food poisoning based on the symptoms which you have experienced. In cases where a physician cannot reach a diagnosis, a stool sample can identify what is the cause of the poisoning.
Usually, the treatment is designed to rehydrate you after the loss of fluids from vomiting and diarrhea. Often, this is done with IV (intravenous fluids). If the cause of food poisoning is bacteria, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics.
The best way to prevent food poisoning is to avoid any food which may be unsafe or to handle your food safely.
There are some foods that are more likely to cause food poisoning, because of the way they are prepared and produced. Such foods are:
- Shellfish, eggs, poultry, and meat
- Sushi and other fish products which are undercooked or served raw
- Hot dogs and deli meats which are not cooked or heated
- Unpasteurized juice, cheese, and milk
- Unwashed, raw vegetables and fruits
Before you cook or eat food, make sure to always wash your hands. Also, make sure that your food is well sealed. Appropriately store frozen and refrigerated foods. Thoroughly cook eggs and meat. Everything which was in contact with raw products should be sanitized before you use it in order to prepare other foods. Also, make sure to always wash vegetables and fruits before serving.