Common food culprits...
Campylobacter, Milk and poultry
Salmonella, Eggs, meat (especially poultry)
Clostridia Spores, in food (especially meat)
Listeria, Meat, pate, creamed cheese, dairy foods, fish, shellfish
This leaves the door wide open for the microorganisms to enter the body in one of two ways. If the food containing them hasn't been cooked thoroughly, as is often the case when barbecuing, then the microorganisms are not killed off, and enter the body through the food.
The other way is if the person preparing the food has the illness, and doesn't wash their hands properly, or at all, and then handles the food. The micro-organism will be transferred from them to the food, and into the body itself.
The usual suspects
Campylobacter infection is currently the commonest cause of food poisoning seen by GPs. It likes to reside in milk and poultry. Other common causes of food poisoning include salmonella, listeria, shigella, and clostridia. Some take a few hours to cause symptoms, others take a few days. Serious infections with E-Coli, although often reported in the press, are fortunately quite uncommon.
Don't let it happen
Always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food, after going to the toilet, and after handling pets. They should always be kept away from any food that isn't for them.
Defrost food completely before cooking it, and cook it well. Meat shouldn't have any pink bits, and if food is re-heated, then it must be served piping hot.
· Put raw meat, poultry and fish at the bottom of the fridge, and make sure they can't drip onto other foods.
· Always wash hands before handling food.
· Always check the 'use by' or 'best before' date on food and store according to package instructions.
· Never put cooked food onto a plate which has been used for raw meat or poultry.
· Don't leave food out or uncovered.
· When cooking eggs for babies always ensure that the white and yoke are solid.
· Always keep pets well away from food and preparation areas. Keep two chopping boards, one for meats and one for veg.
· Always wash thoroughly after use.
· Never re-heat food more than once.
· Don't cook foods too far in advance.
· Wash hands thoroughly
· Keep kitchen work surfaces clean
· Keep pets away from food
· Defrost food completely
· Cook food thoroughly
· Serve re-heated food piping hot
· Store raw foods at bottom of fridge
· Store all perishable foods at 5ºC / 41ºF or less
· Keep raw food covered up
· Rinse fruit and vegetables before eating
· Throw away food that: is past its use-by date doesn't smell right has fungus on it
Fruit and vegetables should be rinsed under running water before being eaten.
Any food that is past it's use-by date, doesn't smell right, or has fungus growing on it, should only be fed to the waste-bin.
If you get the bug
Most infections clear up within 24-48 hours, during which time fluid is often being lost from both ends. To prevent dehydration, it's important to drink plenty of boiled water, and use re-hydration powders if the symptoms continue. Sometimes, antibiotic treatment is necessary, and this can be determined by testing for the responsible microorganism
It's especially important that anyone whose work involves handling or preparing food, stays away from work whilst they have the symptoms, to avoid passing the illness on to others. They must also notify, and seek advice from, their local Environmental Health Department.
If someone suspects that a certain food bought from, or eaten in, a specific shop, take-away, or restaurant is responsible, they too should inform their local Environmental Health Department, so the standards of food hygiene can be investigated
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