The Prevention of Food Poisoning
The modern life is full of various events; unfortunately, not all of them can be called pleasant. In particular, it is frustrating when the problems happen to one’s health, especially because besides chronic or seasonal diseases, there are events of force majeure such as sharp health deteriorations. One of the most frequent causes for such issue is food poisoning; this trouble is faced by almost every person. Moreover, it is not always caused by the one’s negligence or insufficient control over the consumed products.
In any case, despite the cause, the effect is disappointing – the food poisoning. The disease is caused by microorganisms that enter the human digestive system with food. Bacteria, together with germs, are the main causes of the food poisoning as a result of the consuming the low-quality or spoiled food. The U.S. government, together with the healthcare experts, classifies such diseases as a major threat to the food security (Landau 13). At first, their symptoms may appear as a usual discomfort with the latter development of diarrhea, vomiting while other digestive diseases may even result in death. The outcomes of the diseases caused by food poisoning may vary, but they always have a negative impact on a person’s health. As a result, the U.S. federal agencies that act on the basis of the information on the food security gathered from a variety of sources, together with the research centers, are a part of the system of monitoring and control of diseases that occur due to the consumption of a low-quality food. Moreover, the producers of food use the new technologies to provide the highest quality and the safety of their products (Landau 90).
Therefore, it is clear that with all the attention it receives, the problem of food poisoning is particularly relevant nowadays.
Therefore, the following research will cover the causes of food poisoning, as well as the ways of its prevention.
In order to prevent the food poisoning efficiently, it is necessary to identify its sources. In general, this disease is caused by a variety of microorganisms that can be found in the environment. For example, only on the human skin, there are more than a hundred species of bacteria (Landau 65). For the multiplication, bacteria require food, high humidity, and particular temperature regime. Therefore, the sources of natural protein, such as meat and fish, are the perfect environment for the growth of the pathogenic microorganisms as they meet all the three requirements. It should be noted that these products are not the only sources of the bacteria, which may get into the food from the kitchen knife, packaging, various utensils, or dirty hands. Moreover, the sources of contamination can be in the product (inside the tissues of fillet or loin), directly on it (egg shell or vegetable peel), or in the water used for washing the food. Apart from the food, bacteria also reproduce rapidly on a variety of kitchen things, including sponges, wiping cloths, cutting boards, taps, and the other utensils (Landau 44).
In particular, six types of microorganisms cause the majority of the poisoning cases:
- Botulism. This disease is rather rare; nevertheless, it is very dangerous. The disease usually occurs after consuming the low acid canned food, such as meat or vegetables that were not processed and sterilized properly or were stored under insufficient conditions (Jay, Loessner, and Golden 573);
- Pathogenic clostridia. These microorganisms prefer living in the environment that contains very low or no oxygen (anaerobic bacteria). They are very resilient, so the food in skillets, fryers, and frying pans must be maintained at a temperature of 600 grades or higher in order to prevent the multiplication of these bacteria (Jay, Loessner, and Golden 365);
- Escherichia coli. Escherichia coli are bacteria that live in the digestive tract of humans and animals. Most of its types are harmless. However, the type O157:H7 is known to produce dangerous toxins that may be the cause of poisoning. The source of infection may be the insufficiently cooked meat, unpasteurized milk, or other similar products (Jay, Loessner, and Golden 653);
- Listeria monocytogenes. These germs are usually found in the raw milk and fruit, various sorts of cheese (especially soft ones), and meat. It should be noted that they are rather resilient and can grow and multiply even in the fridge (Jay, Loessner, and Golden 591);
- The varieties of salmonella. Salmonellosis is the most frequently occurring type of the food poisoning, as the family of these bacteria has about two thousand species. There are many strains of salmonella, but only ten of them cause poisoning. Salmonella can be found in a variety of products, but in most cases, it is associated with eggs and raw milk (Jay, Loessner, and Golden 625);
- Staphylococci. These bacteria, as a rule, live in the human nasopharynx. It should be noted that the usual cooking methods do not decrease the power of staphylococcal toxins. Therefore, following the rules of personal hygiene is critical for anyone involved in the cooking process. (Jay, Loessner, and Golden 243).
It is clear that almost any food may be infected by germs or bacteria and cause poisoning. However, some products are more susceptible to spoilage than the others are. Therefore, it is possible to define the so-called group of risk. In particular, it should be kept in mind that most often, the food poisoning is caused by consuming milk and dairy products, cream cakes and pastries, iced cheese, soft cheese, cooked sausages, pate, eggs, homemade salads, mayonnaise or sour cream, tomatoes, tomato juice, and soy sprouts (McLauchlin and Little 65).
After hearing all these facts, one may become concerned about the possibility of protecting him/herself and the family from this disease. Of course, in the case the poisoning has already occurred, the only solution is to turn to a qualified medical specialist.
However, everyone may agree that the best way of action is to prevent such situations from occurring. In general, the best prevention of food poisoning is a high level of hygiene during cooking, proper food storage, and elementary vigilance. Therefore, it is possible to define the following set of preventive measures. First, it is important to pay attention to color, smell, and taste of food. The primary signs of spoilage are unpleasant putrid smell, sour taste, and tingling sensation on the tongue. Moreover, the damaged product may change its texture or have slime on its surface. Therefore, the products that are covered with the mold, spoiled fruits and vegetables (even if they only have a tiny rotten flank), swollen cans, and packages with juices or dairy products must be thrown away. Moreover, the cans with metal lid must open with a characteristic clap, which indicates that they were tightly (hermetically) closed. In the case there is no such sound, it is best to avoid consuming this product (McLauchlin and Little 82).
When purchasing food, it is imperative to check the date of production and shelf life of the products, as well as packaging integrity.
Moreover, it is possible to recommend not buying the ready-made salads, especially with mayonnaise, as they are very perishable.
At home, it is required to check the contents of the refrigerator regularly in order to identify the spoiled products. Food poisoning can also be prevented by following the thermal regime of cooking, washing fruits and vegetables, crockery and cutlery, as well as hands, before eating and cooking. The dishtowels and washcloths used for dishes must be frequently changed (every day) because they accumulate various bacteria including those that cause food poisoning. It is also advisable to use several cutting boards.
Fruits, greens, vegetables, as well as cheeses and sausages, should not be cut on a board that is intended for processing raw meat and fish (McLauchlin and Little 112). Moreover, the raw meat and fish should not be stored in the same compartment of the fridge as the ready-to-eat meals. As for the cooked food, it is possible to recommend not cooking a large amount of food beforehand. In particular, the cooked food should not be stored for more than three days in the fridge (McLauchlin and Little 120). The last important preventive measure concerns being choosy when selecting the points of catering as not all of them observe the rules of hygiene and, therefore, may become the source not only of food poisoning but also various digestive diseases (McLauchlin and Little 352).
In conclusion, it is possible to say that, unfortunately, the food poisoning is a quite common phenomenon in the modern life, as it is encountered by each person at least once, and often has rather negative consequences. However, by knowing its causes, symptoms, and the ways of prevention, one can be protected from this disease. Therefore, it is recommended to follow the rules of hygiene, monitor the shelf life of products, and know the technology of their preparation. Of course, these measures will not allow eliminating the risk of the food poisoning, but they are a much better choice than succumbing to negligence in cooking and culture of the food consumption. As mentioned before, today, the problem of food poisoning is addressed even on the governmental and federal levels; the fact proves its relevance and importance for the whole country. As a result, one should always remember that his/her health and well-being have an effect on the entire nation and treat them accordingly. Therefore, it is important to be always alert, aware, and healthy.