The Danger Of Food: How Safe Are You?
Aon Health & Wellbeing Conversation #1
Most of us love to eat. But little do we know that there is looming danger every single time we put food in our mouths: We are at risk of being poisoned.
Foodborne illnesses, or more commonly known as food poisoning, are caused by the ingestion of food and beverages contaminated by parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Some of the usual culprits are Campylobacterenteritis, Listeria, Salmonella, E. colibacteria, Cholera, and Staphylococcusaureus. Contamination occurs when food and beverages are improperly handled and prepared, not cooked or reheated thoroughly, left out for too long, have passed their expiration or ‘best before’ date, or incorrectly stored.
What does food poisoning look like?
Food poisoning doesn’t always happen instantly – symptoms may be experienced within hours or even a few days of consuming affected food and beverages. The onset of symptoms would depend on the type of contaminant. Generally, a person with food poisoning would feel:
- Tired and unwell
- Feverish, with aches, chills, and sweating
- Nausea and intestinal/abdominal cramps
- Severe discomfort from diarrhoea and vomitting
What to do next?
Food poisoning is generally non-threatening. Most of the time, you can go without medication and recover in a few days; although young children, the elderly, and pregnant women are more susceptible to complications, so added precaution is recommended.
However, diarrhoea and vomitting could cause anyone to lose an excessive amount of fluids and electrolytes – leading to dehydration. This is why, despite the discomfort, it’s important to ensure that you hydrate as much as you can. And if the symptoms become severe, emergency consultation is critical.
Rush to the nearest medical facility if you show signs of:
- Severe dehydration – this shows when there is little to no urine output, dark-coloured urine, dizziness, confusion, weakness, and/or rapid and pounding heartbeat of more than 100 beats per minute
- Bloody vomit and/or stool
- Severe stomach pain
- Difficulty in breathing
How to avoid food poisoning?
- Wash hands, worktops, and utensils prior to handling food
- Wash kitchen cloths and dry properly before reusing to avoid spreading of germs
- Use separate chopping boards for raw meat
- Make sure that food is cooked thoroughly
- Avoid eating raw or uncooked meals. Do not consume any food or beverage that has been contaminated with drippings or juices of raw or spoiled food
- Always check the expiration dates of food and beverages, and do not consume anything past the ‘best before’ date
- Avoid unpasteurised cheeses such as feta or Mexican-style
- For optimal food storage conditions, keep your fridge at 5°C.