Food poisoning is very common and is caused by eating food that has been contaminated through incorrect handling, storing and preparing processes. Bacteria found in contaminated foods can multiply very quickly, especially in particular foods or in certain conditions.
Symptoms can vary depending on the type of bacteria causing the illness and can range from mild to very severe. They can occur almost immediately or a number of hours later and can last from 24 hours to five days. Symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
If you are experiencing any food poisoning symptoms, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. If you got food poisoning from a local food shop, restaurant or café, you should notify your local council or Department of Health so they can investigate and prevent the spread.
The home doctor experts at House Call Doctor have some tips on how to avoid food poisoning at home.
Maintain hygiene when handling food
Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling food. Be extra careful when handling raw food such as meat, fish, eggs and vegetables and also after touching the bin, going to the toilet, touching animals and blowing your nose. It is also important to wash cloths and work benches with antibacterial products.
Separate raw meat
Keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods to avoid bacteria spreading. When preparing raw meat, always use a separate chopping board to avoid contamination with other foods.
Cook food thoroughly
Ensure meat is cooked until steaming hot. If it is white meat, like chicken or pork, ensure there is no pink meat left. While freezing meats can reduce the levels of bacteria, it does not eliminate them completely, so you need to ensure food is cooked thoroughly.
Cool leftovers quickly
Cool cooked foods that you are not going to eat straight away quickly, and store in the fridge or freezer. Use any leftovers from the fridge within two days.
Respect use-by dates
Avoid eating food that’s past its use by date, as these dates are based on scientific tests that show how quickly harmful bugs can develop in packaged food.