Food-Related Illness: Playing It Safe
How Is a Food-Related Infection Detected?
If you suspect a food-related infection, seek medical care. Your doctor may
culture a stool sample to identify the bacteria. Treatment may follow,
depending on the bacteria and your symptoms.
Experts believe that many people who have diarrhea or vomiting simply assume
it's a "virus," and let it run its course instead of getting an
accurate diagnosis. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control estimates
that 38 cases of salmonellosis actually occur for every case that is diagnosed
and reported to public health authorities.
The good news is that like viruses, most bacterial food poisoning resolves
in less than seven days. If you have limited symptoms and are able to keep
fluid down, treatment of your symptoms may be sufficient. But if you have blood
or mucus in your stools, along with fever, those are signs of bacterial
infection. You need medical attention and possibly antibiotic treatment.
Who's at Risk?
If you eat food, you are at risk for food-related illness. While there are
more than 250 different types of food-related diseases, this is one common
illness you can avoid.Here are 6 tips that can help you
1: Watch What You Buy
Make sure the food you or your parents buy is the freshest available. Check
the packages for expiration or "use by" dates, and make sure you will
have time to eat the food before it needs to be thrown out. When the use-by
date passes, throw the food away to be safe.
Make sure that eggs have no cracks or thin places in the shells. Select
cheese that is fresh and has no unusual mold or discolored spots. Dairy
products should be dated and pasteurized. Avoid buying fruits or vegetables
that are slippery, moldy, or have a funny odor. And never taste fresh
fruits or vegetables in the store, as you have no idea what types of germs or
pesticides are on them.
2. Always Wash Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (Even If They Come In
Remember the spinach scare across the United States in the fall of 2006 that
resulted in several deaths? Fruits and vegetables can have some of the most
deadly food-related pathogens, particularly if they are washed or irrigated
with water that is contaminated with animal or human feces. These germs can get
into fruits and vegetables during processing or packaging. And if the workers
who packed the fruits and vegetables into crates are ill, these germs go right
onto the foods they are touching.
Scrub all fresh fruits and vegetables to remove germs and avoid illness.
This means rewashing any pre-washed, packaged salads before serving, to remove
bacteria and pesticides that remain on the leaves.
3. Be Aware of "At Risk" Foods.