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Avoid food poisoning

-Arjun Gurung

With the arrival of summer, temperatures have started soaring and so have the risks of food borne diseases. Those who eat out, be it at picnics, restaurants or the local diner, are possibly at greater risks. Yes, the smells from those pani-puri and momo street stalls are very tempting but with the heat increasing, the wisest thing for you to do is to think twice. How can you prevent yourself from food poisoning? I’ve done a bit of studying and it feels good to be sharing the following information.

First of all let’s get down to the basics; what are the main causes of food poisoning?

Bacterial food poisoning: Bacteria present in raw food or introduced by contamination, grow in the food and multiply before it is consumed. Once in the stomach, they continue multiplying and cause symptoms of food poisoning.

Toxication: Stale food or food not well preserved may contain germs which are capable of producing chemical toxins. Bacillus cereus, which grows easily in cooked rice, produce chemical toxins which is not destroyed, even by high temperature. Similarly badly tinned or bottled food and food prepared by a person with a wound on his hand can cause chemical toxication.

Chemical poisoning: Some foods contain natural chemical poisons. Certain fungi are very poisonous even if eaten in very little quantities. Certain nuts, though not very poisonous, can cause poisoning if eaten in large quantities. Uncooked kidney beans and the green areas of potatoes are also poisonous.

If you are poisoned, how do you know? What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

 Abdominal pain followed by sickness or diarrhoea or both are the symptoms of food poisoning. If it is bacterial food poisoning, symptoms may appear within 12- 24 hours of eating the contaminated food. In case of toxic food poisoning, the onset is much faster, often within minutes.

And finally how can we defend ourselves from food poisoning?

Personal hygiene: Wash your hands properly with soap and water before handling food. Treat all infections. Do not let food come in contact with infected spots on your body while preparing food.

Cook properly: Make sure you kill harmful bacteria by cooking food until it reaches the proper temperature. Avoid half cooked foods.

Preserve food carefully: Warm and humid conditions cause bacteria to multiply rapidly. Make sure that all food, especially perishable goods are well preserved. Keep raw foods and cooked foods separate to prevent cross contamination.
Cleanliness: Make sure the kitchen, cooking utensils and plates are clean. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Clean water: Drink only boiled and filtered water. Use clean water to wash fruits and vegetables.
Play it safe: If possible, cook and eat at home.

By being careful of what we eat and where we eat, it shouldn’t be too difficult to avoid getting sick. Hope you have a fun, healthy summer.  

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