Food Poisoning

Food poisoning kills 100s of thousands of people every year. In the USA up to 5000 people die each year, in the UK up to 40The numbers are similar in other developed countries but the number in Asia and Africa and South America are far higher.

Bacteria like listeria are classified as low dosage organisms which means very small numbers can cause illness, sometimes as few as 10 organisms can be enough. And food poisoning not only cases pain and suffering but costs us all money.

Food poisoning tends to occur at picnics, school cafeterias, and large social functions. These are situations where food may be left unrefrigerated too long or food preparation techniques are not clean. Food poisoning often occurs from eating undercooked meats, dairy products, or food containing mayonnaise (like coleslaw or potato salad) that have been out too long.

The most common treatment for simple food poisoning is simply supportive care at home with clear liquids to stay hydrated, and after vomiting or diarrhea subside, the gradual return to eating beginning with a bland diet (such as rice, bread, potatoes and milk). If the inflamed colon is caused by a bacterial infection, the normal treatment is an antibiotic. Viral infections can be treated with an intake of fluids over a period of time. Inflammation caused by food poisoning, like E. Coli or Salmonella, will not require antibiotics. The body will likely heal itself with sufficient water intake and rest.

Symptoms of food poisoning depend on the type of poisoning and the amount eaten. The symptoms can develop rapidly, within 30 minutes, or slowly, worsening over days to weeks. Most of the common contaminants cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.

Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees or less and hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees or more. If you keep your foods at the suggested temperatures and practice other food safety you should never have a problem with food poisoning.

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