Food poisoning is caused by contaminated food. The majority of this contamination is caused by bacteria, such as Campylobacter, salmonella, E. coli and listeria though sometimes viruses and parasites can be the cause. Food poisoning results in vomiting, fever, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, abdominal pain, aching muscles and chills. Most people recover from food poisoning fairly quickly after letting it run its course. In some cases, if symptoms are very severe and do not improve after 24 hours, medical assistance may be required.
Food poisoning takes place best in summers as the temperatures outside are warm, and this creates the perfect breeding ground for the most common bacteria that cause food poisoning. The most important thing you can do to combat this is to make sure foods that should stay cold stay cold, and likewise with foods that should be warm.
To avoid food poisoning here are some tips:
1. Good Hygiene
This is one of the most important factors for cooking food at home (or on holiday if you’re in self-catering). Keep your hands clean, wash utensils and chopping boards in hot soapy water and wipe all surfaces with antibacterial spray or wipes before and after use. These rules are particularly important when raw meat is involved. Washing your hands before eating is also important, whether you cooked the food or ordered it in a restaurant!
2. Check Use-By Dates
Whether at home or abroad, pay attention to use-by and best-before dates. Throw out anything past its use-by date, and check products past their best-before date for mould, unpleasant smells, changes in consistency and other indications that they may be off.
3. Avoid Open Buffets
This is particularly important when abroad, as food can often be left out on a buffet on warm, humid days for several hours, giving bacteria plenty of time to multiply. This also exposes the food to flies, which carry bacteria.
4. Cooking Food Thoroughly
Whether cooking it yourself or ordering from a restaurant, food should be piping hot throughout and visibly cooked. When eating steak, it is safe to eat if the middle is pink, but NOT if it is red or bloody.
5. Be wary of Shellfish and Seafood
When cooked properly, seafood is usually safe to eat. However, some bacteria found in seafood, particularly in shellfish, are resistant to high temperatures so will still be contaminated after cooking.
6. Be Wary of Street Vendors
Make sure you can see your food being freshly cooked when you order it, and make sure that when it is served it is piping hot all the way through, visibly cooked, and served on clean plates.
7. Don’t Swim in dirty pools
Not technically food poisoning, but similar bacteria to those found in unsafe drinking water can also be found in unclean swimming pools.
8. Undercooking Meats
There’s nothing tastier than a barbecue in the summer, but make sure you’re properly handling your meats. Make sure they are cooked properly.
9. Change your dish sponge and utensils clothes frequently
The dish sponge and utensil clothes should be changed and washed regularly as they accumulate infection-causing bacteria.
10. Prefer avoiding raw salads or fruits
Avoid raw salads and fruits, especially from outside as they are more prone to bacterial growth. Always eat a fresh bowlful of fruits and vegetables after washing them thoroughly.