Basic Knowledge about Food Poisoning
Food poisoning or foodborne illnesses are caused by consuming foods that are contaminated with microbial agents like parasites, bacteria or even viruses. These microbial agents can cause food poisoning either directly by their mere presence or via releasing toxins into the food.
Food poisoning microorganisms and their toxins can contaminate food at any stage during preparation or production both at home and in industrial processing. This article gives a general overview of food poisoning, its causes, symptoms and treatment. Keep on reading to know more about food poisoning.
What causes food poisoning?
Microbial agents may come into contact with food during any stage of production including harvesting, growing, processing as well as shipping and storing. In most cases, cross-contamination is the means of transfer of the microorganisms. In fact, this is the reason why foodborne illnesses are mainly associated with ready-to-eat foods, salads and other raw products. Since these foods are not cooked before eating, harmful microbes are not destroyed and they can cause food poisoning.
Microbes that cause food poisoning include campylobacter, listeria, Clostridium botulinum, E. coli, Clostridium perfringens, Giardia Iamblia, salmonella, rotavirus, Shigella and much more. These microbes can cause cross-contamination leading to food poisoning.
Which foods are affected most?
Food poisoning is often associated with most raw foods. However, it can be foods such as meat, poultry, stews, gravies, seafood, fresh oysters, cream sauces, undercooked mussels, scams, whole scallops, eggs, fish, unpasteurized milk as well as home-canned foods with reduced acidity.
What happens when one has food poisoning?
Depending on the type of food poisoning, the symptoms may start manifesting within a few hours to several days after eating contaminated food. Although in most cases, the first signs show up more rapidly, like in Clostridium perfringens poisoning which produces noticeable symptoms within eight to twenty fours.
General food poisoning symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, and nausea. In many cases, mild food poisoning can resolve quickly without medical treatment. However, sometimes, people need immediate medical attention.
Depending on the symptoms of the illness, the doctor may do tests like stool culture, blood test, or tests for parasites to determine the cause and validate the diagnosis. In some cases, the cause of food poisoning may be easily discernible.
Depending on the diagnosis, treatment for food poisoning may include a fluid replacement for lost minerals such as calcium, potassium, and sodium, especially in cases where excessive diarrhea has been experienced. Other treatment remedies may include administration of antibiotics for bacterial food poisoning and medication such as Loperamide.