Perhaps you’ve heard about the romaine lettuce recall, or you’ve had to call in sick to work due to some bad sushi. Food poisoning is more prevalent than you might think; the FDA states that 1 in 6 Americans will develop a case of food poisoning this year. Learn how to protect yourself from foodborne illness, and find out when you should visit an emergency room.
Food poisoning is an illness you can get from eating food contaminated with viruses, bacteria, parasites, mold, toxins, or allergens. Anyone can develop food poisoning, but it’s more likely to occur in people with weakened immune systems, such as young children and seniors.
Some common symptoms of food poisoning are stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, dehydration, and cramps. There are over 250 different types of food poisoning, and some are far more serious than others. Food poisoning fromB. cereuscan produce some uncomfortable symptoms, such as cramps and diarrhea, but they should subside in a day or two. Botulism, however, can lead to respiratory failure and even death.
Wash all produce you buy to get rid of any dirt, pesticides, or chemicals. Wash your hands and dishes often, and use disinfectant to clean any surfaces you use for cooking. Lastly, clean out any expired foods from your fridge.
Keep your raw meats away from produce and other foods. Store any raw meat on the bottom shelf of your fridge to keep it from dripping onto other food. While cooking, avoid cross-contamination by washing your hands after touching raw meat and using specific utensils only for meat and nothing else.
Make sure you cook all meat to a safe internal temperature. Cook chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, steaks to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and fish to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Store meats and most produce in the fridge while not in use. Store leftovers promptly in the refrigerator or freezer to keep bacteria from growing. Use a thermometer to ensure your fridge is set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
No matter how careful you are while cooking in the kitchen, dangerous food can still enter your home. Meats, produce, and packaged foods can become contaminated while handled by the manufacturer, the store, or while in transit. Stay up to date with current food recalls and throw away any qualifying item.
Try to remember which foods you consumed before you got sick. Monitor the severity and duration of your symptoms, and if they don’t subside after two days, visit your primary care physician. However, if you experience serious symptoms, such as blood in your stool, severe vomiting or diarrhea, high fever, changes in vision, or the inability to keep down clear liquids, you should seek emergency medical care immediately.
If you experience severe or uncontrollable symptoms of food poisoning, visit your nearest St. Luke’s Health community emergency center. Our team can help treat complications, provide a diagnosis, and seamlessly refer you to a healthcare provider for follow-up.
FDA | Foodborne Illnesses: What You Need to Know
CDC | Foodborne Illnesses and Germs
Food Safety | Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Food Safety | Long-Term Effects
Food Safety | See Recent Recalls
Food Safety | Causes of Food Poisoning
Fight Bac! Food Poisoning
Fight Bac! | The Core Four Practices
Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.