Food poisoning is a common illness that is caused by eating contaminated, raw, or expired food. The incubation period for food poisoning ranges between one hour and 70 days. There are many different causes of food poisoning, such as not cooking meat thoroughly enough, or someone who is ill or has unclean hands touching the food. Often, people eat food which is ‘out of date’ and will then contract food poisoning.
Causes and Symptoms
The most common symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. In addition to this, you may experience stomach cramps, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and muscle pain. The most common cause of food poisoning in England is campylobacter, a genus of bacteria often found on raw or uncooked meat. Research within the UK has identified that in 2009 there were 68,692 cases of food poisoning within England and Wales.
Of this figure, 49,880 were campylobacter-related cases. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) stated: “it’s a common myth to think that food poisoning only comes from a dodgy takeaway.” Having said that, if you notice a swarm of flies or spot a rat scurrying across the floor when you’re about to order your kebab, it’s safe to say you should step away from the counter and find somewhere that looks clean.
Avoiding Food Poisoning
There are many different ways to prevent food poisoning. The FSA introduced the 4 Cs as Cleaning, Cooking, Chilling, and Avoiding Cross-Contamination. If you don’t want to end up getting ill, always wash your hands after going to the toilet or after touching bins. It is also vital to cook meat properly to kill any dangerous bacteria. Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure foods are kept at the correct temperature to prevent harmful bacteria from growing. It’s also important to keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate, and you should always clean knives and other kitchen utensils thoroughly after they have come into contact with raw food.
Treatment for food poisoning depends on the cause. In less severe cases, it may be sufficient to drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. At the same time, many people recommend herbal tea as a source of rehydration. In more severe cases, antibiotics or hospital treatment may be necessary.
By paying attention to food hygiene and understanding the causes of food poisoning, however, you stand a good chance of staying healthy.