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Food Poisoning – Be Mindful Of What You Eat

Marshalee Valentine
Thursday, December 05, 2019

Have you ever got sick from eating food, whether at home or at a restaurant? Of course, I have a story about this, too! But I won't bore you with the details; long story short, after consuming food at a hotel, I suffered from extreme bloating, headache, nausea and vomiting. This classic example of food poisoning can affect anyone consuming food with harmful pathogens. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, jaundice, stomach pains, diarrhoea, fever or chills/sweating and headaches. While most food poisoning is caused by bacteria, food can also be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, chemicals or poisonous metals. The onset time — how quickly the food-borne illness appears in a person — is dependent on the food-borne illness the person has, and can range from 30 minutes to as long as six weeks!

As previously discussed, improper handling of food can lead to the introduction of harmful pathogens which pose a food safety risk. Some of these include not washing hands after using the restroom, using unclean food contact surfaces and equipment, having sick employees prepare food, not storing food at correct temperatures, not cooking at correct temperatures and not taking the necessary measures to prevent the introduction of pests in our home and facilities, among others.

The US Food and Drug Administration states that there are over 40 kinds of bacteria, parasites, moulds and viruses that can occur in food and cause food-borne illnesses and have singled out a “Big Six”, due to the fact that they are highly contagious. These include :


1. Escherichia. Coli/ E. coli is typically spread from eating contaminated foods such as raw vegetables and fruits, unpasteurised dairy products, or undercooked meats.

2. Hepatitis A is spread from person to person or through ingesting contaminated food or water.

3. Non-typhoidal Salmonella is caused by eating contaminated food of animal origin, such as eggs, meat, poultry, or milk. Raw vegetables may be contaminated if they come into contact with animal faeces. Can also be transferred from person to person via individuals with unsanitary practices.

4. Norovirus is highly contagious and can be spread from coming in contact with an infected person, touching an infected surface, or ingesting contaminated food or water.

5. Shigella is typically spread from person to person and is more common in young children.

6. Salmonella Typhi is spread from person to person as well as drinking infected water.


We can prevent food poisoning by adopting and practising safe food practices such as:

•Ensuring foods are stored and cooked at correct temperatures for the recommended amount of time.

•Preventing cross-contamination by practising proper separation of raw and cooked foods.

•Practising a high level of personal hygiene.

•Purchasing from approved and reputable suppliers/restaurants.

•Implementing proper pest control mechanisms.

•Ensuring all areas used are properly cleaned and sanitised.

•Lastly, ensuring that all staff members are trained on best practices.

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