FOOD POISONING 101: IDENTIFYING COMMON CULPRITS AND TIPS ON PREVENTION

Do you know how to identify and prevent food poisoning? Because there’s a good chance you, a family member, or friend had food poisoning this year- and most likely do not want to get it again!
About 48 million people suffer from food poisoning annually in the United States. That’s an average of 1 in every 6 people every year, according to the recent food borne disease report by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Food poisoning symptoms include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Food poisoning causes around 128,000 hospitalizations, and about 3,000 deaths nationally, according to the CDC.

Bacteria and viruses are the most common source of food poisoning.

The Norovirus, also known as the Norwalk virus, causes over 19 million cases of food poisoning each year, and in rare cases, it can be fatal, according to the CDC.
Sometimes cases of food poisoning are linked to either natural toxins such as mold or other contaminants. Furthermore, food poisoning can be caused by parasites such as tapeworm.
Knowing about food poisoning symptoms as well as prevention tips could save your life or a loved one’s in the future.

Prevent food poisoning incidents at home with these 13 tips

Despite the scary statistics on food poisoning, you don’t need to completely abandon desserts or the barbeque!  

There are some simple steps you can take, and important facts to know, in order to keep both your indoor and outdoor dining experiences healthy and safe all year-round, according to saludmóvil’s Dr. Joseph Mosquera.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water before and after handling food.
  • Wash utensils and surfaces after each use.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables, but NOT poultry, meat or eggs.
  • Keep meat, poultry, fish and eggs separate from other foods in the fridge or cooler, and also during preparation.
  • Keep your fridge below 40°F or about 4°C (most experts actually recommend below 37°F or about 3°C).
  • Keep your freezer temperature no higher than 0°F or about -18°C.
  • Limit the storage time for refrigerated foods, especially ready- to- eat  foods, such as deli meats, salads and cut produce.
  • Store leftovers no longer than 3 to 4 days in shallow covered containers.
  • Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165°F or 73°C before eating.
  • Use a food thermometer and know the correct cooking temperatures for different types of  foods.
  • Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter.
  • Clean up all food spills in the fridge immediately.
  • Know the risky foods.  Foods such as raw milk and raw milk cheeses, soft cheeses (specifically Mexican queso fresco), sprouts, smoked seafood, deli meats and hot dogs are foods that are more likely to carry listeria and cause foodborne  illness.

When in doubt, throw it out

And, if you are ever unsure about whether or not a food is still good to eat, always remember this simple rule: “When in doubt, throw it out!”

Following these easy tips you can greatly reduce your risk of food poisoning!

Who Is at risk for food poisoning?

Statistically speaking, nearly everyone will come down with food poisoning at least once in their lives, but pay extra attention when handling and preparing food if you are pregnant, over 65 years old or have a weakened immune system.  
These groups, along with babies and young children, can develop food poisoning easier and with elevated risk of infection and complications from it.

Be familiar with the most common sources of food poisoning

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group that tracks food safety issues, has compiled a list of 10 common foods responsible for a large number of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.

The list only focuses on foods overseen by the Food and Drug Administration, so it doesn’t include meats, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Here are the top 10 riskiest foods with food-born illnesses on CSPI’s list:

1. Leafy greens

2. Eggs

3. Tuna

4. Oysters

5. Potatoes

6. Cheese

7. Ice cream

8. Tomatoes

9. Sprouts

10. Berries

For more information on food safety in both English and Spanish, please visit:  www.fsis.usda.gov or www.foodsafety.gov.
While food poisoning symptoms usually go away in 24 to 48 hours, symptoms can last for up to 10 days. Immediately contact a healthcare provider if you experience high fever, bloody stools, dehydration, and diarrhea lasting over 72 hours.

If you don’t know them yet, learn more about all the food poisoning symptoms here.

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