Health Services

Food Poisoning

EphNotes

There is nothing like a case (or many cases) of food poisoning to quickly spoil your picnic, barbecue or party. Food poisoning symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and sometimes diarrhea.

What Causes Food Poisoning?

Salmonella, toxoplasma, cereus, clostridia, listeris and E. coli are the most common of the many types of bacteria that can cause food-related illnesses.

Food poisoning can start in the refrigerator when raw meats or poultry are stored where their juices can run out and contaminate other foods.

Harmful bacteria are easily spread during food preparation. After you use a cutting board to cut chicken or meat, be sure to wash it well in HOT water.

Cooked foods that you leave out for a barbecue or put in the car to take to a picnic give harmful bacteria a place to grow. Bacteria grow faster at warmer temperatures — their population doubles every 20 minutes!! So in warm weather it doesn’t take long for food to harbor enough bacteria to make you really sick.

How Quickly Does Food Poisoning Start and How Long Does it Last?

Food poisoning symptoms can begin as quickly as four hours or as long as 24 hours after eating contaminated food. People who eat the same contaminated food, say at a picnic or barbecue, will usually get sick about the same time. Symptoms can last three to four days or longer if you unknowingly continue to eat contaminated food.

How Do You Treat Food Poisoning?

The main treatment for food poisoning is to take in enough fluids to prevent dehydration. So, when your stomach settles down — drink, drink, drink. We’re talking water, not alcohol.
Hints on How to Avoid Food Poisoning:

  • Keep hot foods HOT and cold foods COLD.
  • Wash your hands before preparing food, in between preparing different foods, and after food preparation is finished.
  • When grilling chicken, beef or pork, make sure there are no pink juices from the meat. Juices will be clear if the food is cooked sufficiently.
  • Don’t leave food out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Don’t save leftovers that have sat at room temperature or outside for more than 2 hours even if you intend to refrigerate or reheat them. Harmful bacteria will continue to grow ever after the leftovers are refrigerated.
  • Don’t buy cracked eggs or food in dented cans.
  • Get perishable foods to the refrigerator or freezer ASAP.

If you think that your symptoms are a result of food poisoning, please call the Health Center at x2206.

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