Food poisoning is experiencing a moment in hell. When you eat contaminated food, you’ll have cramps, and feel nauseous. You’ll get a headache and, maybe a fever. You’ll also vomit repeatedly, and deal with diarrhoea. How can such a heavenly dish make you sick?
What are Foodborne Illnesses?
Pathogens cause food poisoning or foodborne illness. Salmonella, e.coli, hepatitis A and Staphylococcus aureus are among the most common types of food poisoning.
You can get foodborne illness a number of ways:
- When food isn’t stored according to its ideal temperature;
- When the food isn’t cooked through;
- When you eat food beyond its expiration date;
- Through cross contamination, when bacteria spread from food to food; between surfaces and unclean utensils and equipment;
- When the food you buy is already contaminated, and
- When the food handler is ill or doesn’t practice personal hygiene.
Sometimes, the simplest act of washing hands can prevent any contamination in the kitchen.
An Ounce of Prevention
Fortunately, restaurants, cafés and other food-related businesses need to comply with all food safety regulations, including a well-trained staff with certificates in food safety. Establishments also need to designate a qualified food safety inspector for its kitchens. These guidelines can ensure you’re eating dishes that are prepared according to food safety standards.
So when eating out, you’ll want to choose places that adhere to food safety standards; most will bear the industry standard for food safety methodology: the HACCP certification. Food safety certifications are particularly essential for establishments handling food susceptible to contamination, such as raw shellfish, raw eggs and unpasteurised milk.
If you eat at a buffet, make sure it has the following:
- Separate serving utensils.
- Appropriate temperatures for hot and cold food; hot food should be in display cabinets, or over burners 60 °C or above, and cold food should be displayed in refrigerated cabinets, at 5 °C or less, or over ice.
- Clean and dry cutlery and plates.
When in doubt, don’t eat at the restaurant. Find a better establishment. It’s better to delay your meal rather than eat on time and risk a foodborne illness.
Food poisoning is unpleasant, to say the least. In severe cases, it can be fatal. Whether you’re preparing it or someone else is, make sure your food goes through adequate safety measures.