Food Poisoning or food Borne illness is caused by eating contaminated food. Food poisoning is a worldwide problem. Food can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, toxins or chemicals. In Nigeria, thousands die yearly from food poisoning. A good number of these deaths are preventable and occur out of ignorance from superstitious beliefs to religious/spiritual interventions and self-medication culminating in the late presentation of the individual to the hospital. The actual number of deaths in Nigeria may be difficult to know as quite a large number occur in homes, herbal or traditional centers and even in the churches. Most fatalities from food poisoning are preventable and early presentation to the hospital can be a life saver. The following are 20 facts you should know about food poisoning.
1. Food poisoning is a world-wide menace with hundreds of millions of people affected yearly. As expected, the top three most affected countries are China, India and the United States of American due to their population.
2. Food poisoning is any illness caused by eating food or drink that is contaminated with certain types of bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins.
3. Do you know that more than 250 different diseases can cause food poisoning?
4. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe.
5. The elderly, young children, pregnant women and immune- compromised people are more at risk.
6. Common symptoms of foods poisoning include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps, pains, sweating, fever or chills, headache, lethargy (extraordinary tiredness).
7. See your doctor immediately you suspect you have food poisoning as it can be life threatening.
8. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is especially dangerous for babies and the elderly.
9. Do not handle or prepare food for others until you are symptom free for 48 hours so as to prevent you from infecting others.
10. If you must handle food, wash your hands with soap and warm water and dry thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination.
11. Do you also know that you can become contaminated by contact with pets, flies or other pests and these can lead to food poisoning?
12. Do you know that when raw meat and ready to eat foods come into contact with each other, It can lead to food poisoning?
13. Food poisoning can occur when food is stored at unsafe temperature that allows bacteria to grow.
14. When house rodents, insects e.g. the common house flies come in contact with ready to eat food, it can lead to food poisoning.
15. Food Poisoning can occur when fruits, vegetables and eggs or water are contaminated with animal manure.
16. Food safety and hygiene is essential in preventing food poisoning.
17. Treatment varies depending on the food poisoning infection.
18. Food vendors and road side sellers are major culprit in the spread of food poisoning.
19. Major food and drinks responsible for food poisoning in Nigeria are as follows:
i. Cassava (Cyanide poisoning)
iii. Palm wine
iv. The popular roasted meat called Suya
v. The popular drinks called ‘Zobo’, ‘Kunu’ and ‘Brukutu’.
vi. Meat, fish and chicken Pies
vii. Poorly preserved and expired canned food and drinks
viii. The popular roasted plantain and fish called bole
ix. Polluted streams and rivers especially in rural areas
x. contaminated pork, cow, goat, chicken, fish meat.
xi. Water melon and other raw fruits and vegetables eaten without proper washing.
20. Some organisms responsible for food poisoning in our environment are:
i. Staphylococcus Aureus: found in skin and noses of animals and human.
ii. Salmonella: gut of birds and mammals including humans.
Spread by Faeces into water and food.
iii. Listeria Monocytogenes: found everywhere.
iv. Escherichia Coli: found in the gut of all humans and animals.
v. Clostridium Perfringens: found in the environment.
vi. Campylobacter jejuni: found in raw meat and poultry.