If you eat contaminated food, you are at significant risk for food poisoning. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacteria, parasites and toxins are the most common cause of food poisoning, and the resulting sickness can last for up to 10 days. You can develop food poisoning from any food; however, some dishes carry a higher risk than others. It is important to understand what foods you should avoid and which require special handling procedures.
Spoiled foods are one of the main causes of food poisoning. Never eat leftovers and foods that smell funny, are discolored or have grown mold. It is essential to check expiration dates and discard foods once they have expired. Freeze foods that you do not plan to eat, as frozen foods can last from one month to a year. Always refrigerate leftovers immediately to avoid spoilage.
Eggs and poultry should always be cooked thoroughly to avoid the risk of salmonella poison. According to kidshealth.org, E. coli is present in cattle, and it has been found in beef and vegetables grown in manure. Never eat undercooked beef, and always wash vegetables in fresh water before consuming.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), shellfish that has been completely cooked has been linked to foodborne illness. UMMC advises that fish that have eaten toxic plankton and algae are common sources of food poisoning. Furthermore, the puffer fish has poisoned flesh and should only be consumed in restaurants licensed to serve the dish.
Food that has been incorrectly packaged is a source of botulism. Foodsafety.gov advises that the nerve-affecting toxin causes serious illness. Infants have become ill after eating honey and canned fruits and vegetables containing the toxin. In addition, adults have gotten sick from bottled oils and foods left warm for extended periods. According to foodsafety.gov, botulism causes lethargy, double vision and slurred speech. If you or someone you know show any sign of the toxin, seek medical attention immediately.
It is essential that you know what symptoms foodborne illnesses cause. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and cramping. You may also experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue and fever. The Mayo Clinic suggests that symptoms usually improve within 48 hours with plenty of rest and drinking fluids such as ginger ale and water.
If you are pregnant or elderly, or if your child shows any signs of food poisoning, consult your physician immediately. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of foodborne illnesses cause dehydration that can be fatal if you are elderly or have pre-existing conditions. You can also reach the Poison Control Center toll free at (800) 222-1222.