No one likes having food poisoning…that’s for sure. Do you know what to watch out for to reduce your chances of contracting bacteria that cause food poisoning?
What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is not commonly severe; the majority of people get better within a few days without the need for medical intervention. It is frequently caused by consuming food contaminated by bacteria or a virus.1
Salmonella, E. coli, norovirus, clostridium perfringens, campylobacter, and staphylococcus aureus are common bacteria and viruses that contaminate food.2
What are the symptoms of food poisoning?
- High temperature
- Feeling generally unwell
Who is most at risk of developing food poisoning?
Vulnerable groups are the most likely to develop food poisoning; the more vulnerable the human body, the more likely it is to be affected by bacteria and viruses. This means children, older adults, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment are the most susceptible to it.2
What are the long-term effects of food poisoning?
Food poisoning increases your chances of having long-term gut issues. Post-infectious IBS occurs for 1 in every 7 people that suffer from food poisoning.3 To put that into perspective, of the 2.4 million people that get food poisoning every year in the UK,4 that’s 34,290 people who will develop post-infectious IBS.
Which foods most commonly cause food poisoning?
Oysters are filter feeders; they pick up contaminants in the water, which helps keep the water clean.5 This means that they are likely carriers of bacteria that can cause human food poisoning. If they are not cooked thoroughly or have been left so long that the bacteria have repopulated, they can be a real risk factor for food poisoning.
RARE MINCE MEAT
It’s essential to make sure that minced meat is cooked thoroughly; don’t have your burgers rare! As minced meat gets mixed in together to create a burger patty, the bacteria on the outside gets mixed inside. If this is not thoroughly cooked, it presents a high risk of food poisoning.6
The fish used in sushi is usually frozen in order to kill the bacteria it contains. The problem is sushi goes off really quickly, meaning it's only safe to consume on the same day it is unfrozen. This means eating two-day-old sushi can present a risk of food poisoning7
Somewhat surprisingly, salads are the biggest offenders of causing food poisoning; many food poisoning outbreaks in the last decade have been linked to salads.
Pre-washed pre-packaged salads can cause food poisoning because of the many cross-contamination points that give the opportunity for bacteria to enter. The moisture inside the packaging is then a breeding ground for that bacteria to thrive.
If you think you have food poisoning, don’t panic! It will usually go away on its own after a nasty time in the bathroom. If you have any concerns about your health, contact your doctor or 111 for advice.
As long as you wash your pre-packaged foods, cook your meat and fish properly and avoid out-of-date foods, your risk of food poisoning drops dramatically. Knowing where the risks lie is the best way to protect yourself against this very unpleasant illness!