Food poisoning is the name given to a range of illnesses that occur when contaminated food or water is ingested. This usually occurs when food is not properly handled, prepared or stored.
In Australia, it’s estimated there are up to 5.4 million cases of food poisoning each year and around 120 deaths occur annually.
Symptoms of food poisoning range from person to person, depending on the severity of the case. Common symptoms include – headaches, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea, and fatigue.
If you have contracted food poisoning it is most likely you will start to get these symptoms within six hours of consuming the contaminated food.
Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with an illness are more at risk of food poisoning.
One of the most important things to remember if you have food poisoning is that you must keep hydrated because if you are vomiting or have diarrhoea your body will lose fluids.
Most cases of food poisoning don’t require medical attention but if symptoms persist for more than three days, there is blood or mucus in vomit or faeces, or fluids cannot be kept down make sure you seek medical attention.
Some natural remedies to ease the symptoms of a mildly upset stomach are basil, ginger, cumin, lemon, and peppermint tea.
Recent studies at the Washington State University have discovered that Diallyl sulphide, a compound in garlic, is 100 times more effective than antibiotics at killing Campylobacter – a type of bacteria that commonly causes food poisoning.
Some foods that are the highest risk of causing food poisoning are leafy greens, eggs, oysters, and tuna so it is important that you wash your hands before preparing these types of food, and make sure, where you can, that food is refrigerated.
Cook foods thoroughly, store food at below 5°C, and always check the use-by date of food. If it’s past the use-by date or you’re unsure, throw it out. Don’t let someone who is ill or has poor hygiene handle food, and be sure to clean all cooking surfaces, utensils and equipment to prevent cross contamination.