Potato salad left out in the sun? Did the chicken look a little too pink? Raw cookie dough betrayed you? We’ve heard all the scenarios.
No matter what the cause is, food poisoning is no joke. A fun family picnic can quickly turn into a sick fest when dishes aren’t cooked thoroughly or stored at the proper temperatures.
According to the CDC, one in six Americans, or about 48 million people, get sick from a foodborne illness each year. Infectious organisms (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) and their toxins are to blame. Although food can be contaminated at any point of production, the most common cause is cross-contamination, the transfer of harmful organisms from one surface to another. Foods that are meant to be eaten raw or prepared without heat are the ones to be most cautious with because of the lack of cooking necessary.
First, let’s talk about how to keep the party going with these important food safety tips:
- Cook foods at a safe temperature. Using a food thermometer is a good way to make sure the food you’re preparing is cooked at the right temperature. When food is cooked properly, the heat can kill potential infectious organisms.
- Wash your hands, utensils, and food surfaces. Using warm/hot water with soap when washing up helps kill potential bacteria. You should repeat this process before and after preparing your food.
- Keep raw food away from ready-to-eat foods. In order to prevent cross-contamination, make sure to keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish away from food that doesn’t require cooking.
- Defrost food correctly. Refrain from leaving food out to thaw. When you take an item out of the freezer to defrost, place it in the refrigerator.
- Quickly refrigerate or freeze perishable food. It is important to do this within 2 hours of buying or preparing the food. If the room temperature is relatively warm (90+ F) the time is reduced to an hour.
- When in doubt, throw it out. Food left at room temperature too long can have bacteria or toxins that can’t be killed when cooked. The food may look and smell fine and still not be safe to consume. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
It is important to note that even after taking these precautions, it is still possible to contract a foodborne illness.
The Mayo Clinic states that food poisoning symptoms depend on the source of contamination.
The symptoms may appear within hours after eating the food, but can sometimes take up to days or weeks to show. A person with food poisoning will show one or more of the following symptoms and they will generally last from a few hours to a couple of days.
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramps
If symptoms get too extreme or painful, go visit your healthcare provider.
For most people who experience food poisoning, the illness resolves itself without treatment, but the amount of time this takes varies. To lessen the symptoms, it’s important to stay hydrated to balance out the loss of fluids from vomiting and diarrhea.
Patient Plus’s own Dr. Rubin Patel shares words of advice on food poisoning:
“With nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, we recommend trying not to eat anything. To test if you can hold down food, try eating ice chips and drinking water to see if you can maintain the food. When you are able to eat, start with the BRAT Diet — bread, rice, applesauce, and toast.”
Your healthcare provider may also prescribe antibiotics if symptoms get too severe, but take note that antibiotics will not help the issue if it was caused by a virus. Talk to your health care provider or visit any of Patient Plus’s clinics for more treatment options.
The CDC’s website is a helpful tool that informs the public about foodborne disease outbreaks. To stay updated on which foods to stray away from currently, visit the site linked above.
Patient Plus Urgent Care – Get in, Get better.
When you’re sick or injured, whether routine or urgent, quality medical care should be easy to find and available when you need it. That’s the idea behind Patient Plus Urgent Care, with convenient locations in Baton Rouge, Prairieville, & Brusly.
Patient Plus treats most common illnesses and injuries — the sniffles, rashes, fevers, aches, breaks, and other conditions that deserve prompt treatment but aren’t serious enough to require a trip to the nearest emergency room. The clinics provide complete diagnostic services, including X-rays, EKGs, and flu and strep tests. Other services include physicals, vaccinations, and more. Patient Plus clinics are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and patients never need to call first or make an appointment.