Food borne illnesses, commonly referred to as food poisoning, occur when a person consumes contaminated food. Symptoms can start within hours of eating and can vary depending on the type of contamination.
The main types of contamination occur from bacteria and parasites. While most cases do not need treatment, people with weakened immune systems, such as infants, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, and pregnant women might be affected more than others.
Perhaps the most well known bacterial contaminator is salmonella, which can be found in contaminated meats and poultry and unpasteurized milk. The symptoms include diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and can last from 4-7 days.
While most people do not need treatment, salmonella can be more dangerous to infants and elders. If you think you have the illness, it is important to drink lots of water to flush it out of your system.
If you don’t notice any improvement from doing this, the illness may have spread to the blood system, which requires antibiotics for treatment. Cooking and pasteurization can prevent salmonella from contaminating anything.
Temperatures are important, so use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked completely. Also be sure to chill foods to stop them from going bad and wash hands after touching raw meat.
The parasite responsible for most food borne-related deaths is Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis. The parasite lives in the flesh of animals. Contaminated meat and feces from an infected cat carry the disease.
Cutting boards and utensils that touch the affected meat are sources of this illness. Water can also become infected. Symptoms include muscle pain, sore throat, headache, and enlarged nymph nodes.
Most people do not need treatment unless they already have a weakened immune system. If they do, their symptoms might be more serious, ranging from confusion to seizure.
To prevent this illness, make sure meat is cooked all the way, wash raw fruits and vegetables, and wash your hands after coming into contact with infected cat feces or raw meat.
Food poisoning can cause dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea, so make sure to stay hydrated while you are feeling ill. Take small sips and have clear fluids, such as clear sodas or broths.
After your illness subsides, don’t go back to your regular diet right away – ease back into eating and stop if nausea returns. Start with bland foods such as crackers and toast that will be easier for your stomach to handle.
Alcohol, nicotine, and extremely fatty foods will only cause your body to take longer to return to full health. Going through food poisoning will make your body feel weak, so make sure you have time to let your body rest and get back to normal.
College kids, who may not have much experience in cooking, may be unaware of how long to cook certain foods and what will happen if they’re not cooked or chilled at the right temperature.
If you’re cooking something for the first time, do your research on its properties. Also, kitchens require certain cleanup that may prevent illnesses from spreading.
Use a kitchen cleaning product on counter tops and make sure to fully wash utensils and cutting boards.
Although you may not be able to see the contaminants, bacteria and parasites will exist if conditions are correct.
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