Avoiding Food Poisoning at Home
Vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach ache can begin at any time between two and 36 hours after eating infected food. Various bacteria, including salmonella, and many types of virus can bring on the typical symptoms of food poisoning.
The listeria bacterium causes a flu-like illness, with fever, sore throat, headache, swollen glands and skin rash. Children, old people and the sick are most vulnerable. Listeria in pregnancy may cause a miscarriage or death of the baby.
What you can do for a patient:
• If vomiting and diarrhoea occur, just give the patient sips of water. Don’t give any food or milk. The stomach is trying to get rid of an irritant; don’t irritate it any more.
• An anti-diarrhoeal medicine, such as kaolin mixture, can help to reduce the stomach pains. But don’t give it to babies.
• When the stomach begins to settle – probably after 24 hours – start feeding the patient with bland food, such as soup, biscuits, bread or potatoes. Avoid milk and milk products which may prolong diarrhoea. Also avoid tea or coffee, and acid drinks like lemon and orange juice. They might make the vomiting start again.
• The patient can gradually go back onto a more normal diet as the symptoms die down.
AVOIDING FOOD POISONING AT HOME
Don’t leave creamy foods, processed meat or fish at room temperature for a long time. Keep it in the fridge.
• Cook poultry and pork thoroughly, so that there is no pink meat on the inside.
• Don’t allow any other food to come into contact with raw poultry. And thoroughly clean a chopping board and plates after they have been used for raw poultry.
• Throw away any food that has passed its use-by date.
• Clean out your fridge regularly.
• When you heat up cold meat, make sure it is thoroughly re-cooked. Do not repeatedly reheat food.
• Throw away any canned food that looks or smells as though it’s ‘going off – and, of course, any that has developed mould.
• Avoid restaurant food which you suspect has been unhygienically prepared. This is particularly important when you are on holiday in warm climates.
• Don’t refreeze any frozen food once it has thawed. If you want to preserve it, cook it as part of a dish and then refreeze.
• Don’t eat the green parts of potatoes.
• Remember that microwave cookers may heat food without cooking it. Heating in a microwave may not destroy germs.
• Keep flies off food. During a warm summer it may be wise to buy a mesh fly guard. Alternatively, cover food with a clean tea towel or a large bowl if it’s not in the refrigerator.