Tips to steer clear of foodborne illness
Food is supposed to be one of life’s pleasures, but it can cause you a great deal of pain if you come down with a foodborne illness. You may know the queasy feeling all too well. Just the thought of foodborne illness is enough to make you lose your appetite altogether. However, there’s no need to be worried sick about getting sick as long as you understand the causes and symptoms of foodborne infections, along with foodborne illness examples, and foodborne illness prevention tips.
A taste of foodborne illness
Simply another name for food poisoning, foodborne illness is far too common. This year alone, one out of every six Americans will get sick from something they ate. Scarier still is that foodborne infections send 128,000 people to the hospital every year. And, with the media repeatedly sharing reports about what is a foodborne illness outbreak or issuing recalls for all kinds of grocery items gone bad, it can make you wonder if your dinner will put you in danger.
The causes of the effects
A foodborne illness occurs when you consume a food or water that has been contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. It can affect just one person or spread to a group of people who all ate a particular food, answering the question, “What is a foodborne illness outbreak?” Some of the most well-known foodborne illness examples are Salmonella and E.coli, but there are hundreds of other foodborne illness examples that are less recognized but just as risky. In most cases, foodborne infections occur after eating at restaurants, large gatherings, picnics, or cafeterias because the food served in these places tends to sit out before it’s dished out. There are many ways for foods to become contaminated, including:
- A food is prepared with cutting boards or kitchen utensils that aren’t properly cleaned.
- Foods are handled by a person who doesn’t wash their hands well.
- Refrigerated or frozen foods aren’t stored at the proper temperature or reheated to a safe degree.
- Foods containing perishable ingredients like mayonnaise and yogurt are left out of the refrigerator too long.
- Meat, poultry, or eggs aren’t fully cooked.
- Fish and shellfish like oysters are eaten raw.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t completely washed.
- Dairy products, fruit juices, and vegetables aren’t pasteurized, so they haven’t been treated to prevent contamination.
- Water from a well, stream, or town that hasn’t been properly treated for drinking.
Symptoms of a food sickness
Everyone feels a little queasy or has a stomachache every so often, so how do you know if you have food poisoning or if your lunch just didn’t agree with you? The symptoms of a foodborne illness usually appear within a couple of hours to up to a day or two after eating a contaminated food. The signs are more severe and last longer than when it’s just an upset stomach and can include any of the following:
- Stomach cramps
Treatments you can stomach
The unsettling symptoms of a foodborne illness may pass within a few hours, but should be completely gone in a few days. To help relieve your discomfort and speed up your recovery, drink plenty of fluids such as tea, broth, and coconut water. Once your stomach becomes more settled, start eating small amounts of very bland foods, such as bananas, crackers, bread, rice, and soup. If the queasiness and uneasiness just aren’t going away, or if you have a weakened immune system or other medical condition, see your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor right away.
Don’t let foodborne illness cramp your style
Luckily, you can eat well and stay well by following a few basic foodborne illness prevention suggestions. When it comes to food poisoning, the things you do are just as important as the things you don’t. Some of the best foodborne illness prevention tips include:
- DO wash your hands often, including before, during, and after handling any food.
- DO wash all cooking utensils and surfaces after every use.
- DO completely rinse fruits and vegetables under running water without any soap or special washes.
- DO cook meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood thoroughly before eating or serving.
- DON’T wash raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs to avoid spreading germs around your kitchen.
- DON’T eat raw batter or dough when you’re making cookies or baking a cake.
- DON’T thaw or marinate food on the counter.
- DON’T eat raw or risky foods if you’re over age 65, you’re pregnant, or you have a medical condition that weakens your immune system.
By using these simple foodborne illness prevention tips, coming down with a foodborne illness doesn’t need to be on the menu. Better safe than sick.