Here’s all you need to know about food poisoning as we approach the most food friendly season of the year! Holiday parties, catered meals, leftovers and potlucks can cause concern about food safety and the fear of getting sick! We sat down with Doctor Joel Rosenstock with Absolute Care to discuss food related illnesses, what they do if they strike you, and ideas on prevention.
The CDC estimates that 48 million Americans get sick every year related to foodborne illnesses, 128,000 get hospitalized and 3000 people die each year. “This is not a small problem,” says Dr. Rosenstock. “The illness is caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites. Germs get into food by people who are sick contaminating the food in preparation, germs that live on the food, by one food contaminating another, and by spoilage if the food is at room temperature for too long.”
These can vary from:
Bacteria-salmonella (1 million cases/year in U.S.), E. coli (usually 1-3 day incubation period), listeria (unpasteurized cheeses and processed meat)
Virus-norovirus (most common 24-48 hour incubation, often referred to as a “stomach virus”)
Ingesting preformed toxins in food:
Bacillus cereus (emetic form 1-5 hours, diarrheal form 8-16 hours)
Staph aureus toxin
Ciguatera-reef fish poisoning (neurologic symptoms)
Scombroid-tuna, mackerel from poor handling (flushing H/A symptoms)
Paralytic, Neurotoxic or Amnesic Shellfish poisoning
“Self treatment involves drinking fluids to replace loss, small low fat meals, and rest,” says Dr. Rosenstock. “You should seek medical care if you have less than six bowel movements in 24 hours, there’s blood in your vomit or stool, your temperature lasts more than 24 hours, overt dehydration, or if you are older than 70-years-old.”
Lastly, he says there are food safety concerns that should be observed. Do not leave food out unheated or cooled on a buffet for more than an hour, use clean utensils for cutting meat and fresh vegetables and do not mix them, clean cutting boards after preparing meat, try not to cross contaminate foods in preparation, do not eat leftovers for 3-4 days (or less depending how they were handled on the buffet), cook meat to the recommended temperature and not undercook, avoid salads with mayo on a buffet, wash your hands frequently before eating and serving.
Dr. Rosenstock says if and when you’re plagued by food poisoning, his team at Absolute Care can help through the illness to get you recovered. For more information or to make an appointment, visit AbsoluteCare.com