Food as defined by Codex Alimentarius Comission is any substance whether processed, semi processed or raw, which is intended for human consumption. It includes; chewing gum, drinks and any substance which has been used in the manufacture, preparation or treatment of food.
Food poisoning results from the indigestion of contaminated food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or the toxins made by these germs. It can also be a result of eating poisonous plants e.g mushroom and animals e.g pufferfish. It can be referred to as Food borne Diseases or Illness.
THE FOOD POISONING CHAIN
- A bacteria must be present
- The bacteria must have the right conditions to grow i.e warmth (between 5°C – 60°C ), moisture and food
- The bacteria must have the time to grow and multiply
HIGH RISK FOODS
Some high risk foods include:
- dairy product,
- cooked rice,
- pasta salads, and
- fruit salads.
PEOPLE AT RISK
Everybody is at risk of food poisoning but the elderly, babies and pregnant women are mostly at risk due to their weak immune systems.
CAUSES OF FOOD POISONING
- Physical causes: presence of bone/bone chips, metal flakes, peces of product packaging material, stones, insects e.t.c.
- Chemical causes: presence of pesticides, insecticides, incomplete removal of cyanide in cassava processing e.t.c.
- Biological causes: could be parasite, virus or bacteria infection. Some of this is illustrated below:
Source: Food poisoning, Mayo Clinic staff © 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Overall causes include:
- Improper storage of foods (always store wet foods below dry ones)
- Ensure Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
- Mode of preparation
- Poor hygiene
- Improper food handling
Salmonella typhi induced symptoms: fever, chills, aches, swollen lymph nodes
Staphylococcus aureus induced symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea
Salmonella induced symptoms: lower abdominal cramps, diarrhea
Clostridium botulinum induced symptoms: Vertigo, visual disturbances, paralysis
- Good personal hygiene
- Avoid cross contamination (never pass wet foods over dry ones, never touch foods immediately after touching meat)
- Pest and animal control
- Avoid the temperature danger zone
- Cook properly
- Avoid spoiled foods and foods in damaged containers or packaging
- Training of food handlers both at home or in a food premises in safe food handling
Food poisoning is inevitable but can be prevented. and as such it is important to adequately clean, chill, separate and cook foods properly.