Category Archives: Food

The Basics About Food Poisoning And Prevention

Some doctors opt for treating food poisoning omitting any medication, leaving the disease to evolve by itself. Of course this option is not suitable for children, elderly and chronically ill. This therapeutic approach is allowed for people who receive usual and tolerable symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal cramping. These are typically mild bacterial infections, which disappear within a few days, in the absence of any treatment to help boost the immune system, and the acquisition of new antibodies, ready to fight the infection.

But there are also cases where diarrhea persists and the symptoms get worse. In this instance, you should see your local GP for treatment. The treatment itself is simple. No antibiotics are needed, just good hydration followed by a transition diet (switching from diet to regular diet therapy, pre-illness).

MOISTURISE using teas (mint, hay) sweetened water, boiling water, vegetable soups, stewed fruits, carrot juice. Can be sweetened drinks (no exaggeration), contrary to popular belief that sugar should not be used. Avoid carbonated beverages or those with too much sugar. Drinks should be in small quantities and frequent administration.

TRANSITION DIET consists of boiled rice, cheese, bananas, vegetables or mashed potatoes, administered in doses often and in small quantities.

Warning: Botulism is a potentially lethal food poisoning. It is due to ingestion of food containing a toxin made by certain spores in food. Botulinum toxin is most commonly found in green beans and tomatoes.

Symptoms usually start at 12-36 hours after eating contaminated food and the symptoms include headaches, blurred vision or double muscle weakness and eventually paralysis. Some people accuse nausea, vomiting, constipation, urinary retention and decreased salivation. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.

We recommend people respect some basic food guidelines to prevent food poisoning or other digestive diseases being transmitted.

1. Avoid cooking foods more than 2-3 hours before consumption, if you can not provide the conditions necessary for keeping the temperature of food preparations.

2. Providing food keeping the temperature 4-80 C, if the food to be consumed in less than 2-3 hours of preparation (refrigeration).

3. Eating foods prepared for infants immediately after preparation, without being reheated or refrigerated.

4. Avoiding contact between the food we prepared and cooked.

5. Maintaining cleanliness of all kitchen surfaces (floors, worktops).

6. Avoid cooking food by people who have injury or infection (nail infection) in the hands / fingers – if this is not possible, use a sterile dressing to completely isolate the lesion / infection.

7. Careful washing of fruits, vegetables and herbs before eating them.

8. Keeping in maximum hygiene for all food preparation surfaces.

9. Providing the conditions necessary to avoid any contact between food and insect or animal consumption.

10. Use only potable water for human consumption – special attention should be given to water used to prepare food for children.

11. Boiling water is mandatory if there are doubts over the quality of drinking water.

12. Avoid eating food sold on the street, such as ice cream, cakes, pastries, hot dogs, small, hamburger, etc.

Home care tips

* Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
* Do not administer drugs against diarrhea because they may slow elimination of bacteria and toxins.
* Diseases of light and medium frequently resolves itself within 12 hours.

It is important to avoid eating excess quantities of food while gradually recovering from any case of food poisoning.

Should Food Handlers Receive Training On Listeria Monocytogenes In Food Safety Courses?

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that can be found on foods such as ready-to-eat meals, fish, cold meats, hot dogs, deli meats, pasteurized or unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert. It can also be present on raw meats, ice cream and raw vegetables, therefore the potential for contamination can be seen to be high when considering the range of popular foods common to the food chain.

However clinical tests show the actual levels of contamination on these foods to be low when compared with pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, but the mortality rate from the resultant disease, Listeriosis, approaches 25% of infected cases whereas in Salmonella cases the mortality rate is far closer to 1%.

Listeria is a genus of bacteria that contains ten species, but it is the L. monocytogenes that is the causative agent of Listeriosis. In very simple terms the bacteria invades cells in the hosts body and then by growth contaminates the adjacent human cells.

This can then lead to a number of mild flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea which in a healthy body may be defeated by the immune system, but the potential for escalation to more life threatening complications such as sepsis and meningitis, is high in the vulnerable such as the elderly, pregnant women, newborn infants and people with weak immune systems.

The reason why particular training for food handlers as a part of their Food Safety training may be required is that the Listeria monocytogenes pathogenic bacteria can exist and multiply outside of the standard range of temperatures defined by the majority of food handling training as safe.

The Food Safety Certificate Level 2 training as accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is recognised as one of the gold standards of UK/EC food training and conforms with all Food Act recommendations as laid down by the UK Food Standards Agency. However this identifies the “Bacterial Danger Zone” to be between the temperatures of 8 – 63 degrees Celsius, whereas L. monocytobenes bacteria are still capable of growing and multiplying at temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius.

Food handlers will know that many more subtle foods can be damaged if chilled to below 4 degrees Celsius and so the 8 degree temperature requirement is acknowledged by most as an acceptable compromise level for targets to be set at, yet without further training on the dangers such as L. monocytogenes a significant hazard to health may be allowed to enter the food chain with dangerous effect to the vulnerable members of society.

Based on the fact that 1470 cases of Listeriosis were registered in the EU in 2011 and the popularity of eating away from home continues to grow it is my opinion that the current Basic Food Handling, Food Safety Training should have added to it an additional section on how to minimise the potential contamination of this dangerous pathogen and to increase awareness that even adhering to the 8 degrees Celsius minimum temperature to the Danger Zone, does not completely illuminate all risk.

Hobson Tarrant