Don't let Food Poisoning Spoil Your Summer
DON’T LET FOOD POISONING
SPOIL YOUR SUMMER
Food poisoning is on the increase.
Each year it is estimated that as many as five million people across the UK suffer from food poisoning and the Food Standards Agency says that this summer they are expecting cases of the top two food poisoning germs (campylobacter and salmonella) to soar.
Food poisoning doesn’t sound terrible; but even in mild cases it can cause very unpleasant symptoms. For vulnerable groups such as those in poor health or the elderly, food poisoning can prove fatal.
The main cause of food poisoning is specific bacteria – or germs – that can occur in food. These can be very hard to detect because they don’t necessarily affect the taste, the look or the smell of food. Bacteria multiply fast – in the right conditions bacteria can multiply from one to more than four million in just eight hours!
There are different bacteria that can cause food poisoning, the most common in the UK are Campytobacter and Salmonella.
Campylobacter can be found in raw poultry and meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water. Pets with diarrhoea can also be a source of infection.
Symptoms of Campylobacter usually take two to five days to appear and can include fever and headaches with abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Salmonella can be found in many types of food including raw poultry and meat, eggs, raw unwashed vegetables and dairy products. It is the second most common cause of food poisoning.
Symptoms of Salmonella usually take 12 to 48 hours to develop and include fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Symptoms can last up to three weeks.
E.Coli is another form of food poisoning that causes problems in the UK. There are many different types and can be found in raw and undercooked meat, dairy products and raw vegetables including unpasteurised apple juice.
Symptoms of E.Coli usually take 48 hours to develop but can be delayed for up to five days. They include a general feeling of being unwell and diarrhoea.
Listeria is found in the soil, in vegetation, in raw milk, meat, poultry, cheeses (especially soft cheeses) and salad vegetables. The type that causes illness in humans is Listeria monocytogenes which can grow at low temperatures, even in the fridge.
Symptoms of Listeria can take days or even weeks to develop, and range from a mild flu-like illness to severe problems including meningitis.
Whichever type of food poisoning you get, it won’t be pleasant. Symptoms will often eventually disappear on their own without treatment; your pharmacist may be able to recommend suitable remedies and of course for severe symptoms, consult your GP. It is far better, though, to avoid it in the first place!
The best way to avoid food poisoning is to follow the 4 Cs: Cooking; Chilling; Cleaning and avoiding Cross-Contamination.
It really all comes down to fairly obvious hygiene but just as a reminder:
- Check your fridge is at the right temperature (usually around 5 degrees)
- Don’t store raw and cooked meats together
- Always wash your hands before touching food
- Wash worktops thoroughly, especially if they have been in contact with raw meat
- Cook everything according to instructions, make sure the insides are as piping hot as the outsides
- Don’t reheat food more than once
More information can be found from the Food Standards Agency website www.food.gov.uk and also on their specialist website: www.eatwell.gov.uk