Food poisoning or food-borne illness is common but it can also be life-threatening. It occurs if food we ingested or the water we drank is contaminated. Symptoms of food poisoning range from mild intestinal discomfort to severe dehydration and bloody diarrhea.
Due to hot and humid weather this summer season, food and perishable ingredients are easily spoiled. Get to know the ways on how to prevent food contamination to protect yourself and your family and to save yourself from the unnecessary worries of costly hospital bills and life-threatening situations.
Cook food thoroughly.
Health practitioner and columnist Dr. Willy Ong said that to avoid food poisoning, avoid poorly-cooked meat.
For those who are fond of eating kinilaw, sushi and uncooked meat, be aware that parasites in meat or fish cannot be neutralized by vinegar. Also, eating meat portions like steaks that are cooked rare or medium rare should also be avoided.
“For some people, ordering a rare steak makes them feel sophisticated. But there’s nothing special in having beef tapeworms living in your gut, like aliens. I could name you the local regions where beef tapeworms, pork tapeworms, and fish tapeworms lie rampant. So, the next time you order your steak, say ‘well done’,” says Dr. Ong.
Wet foods and milk-based foods including dairy, can easily get spoiled during hot season. Dr. Ong suggested that during summer outings, bring only fried foods –- fried chicken, fried fish or any food that is dry as these do not spoil too fast.
Avoid street foods
There are days that we crave street foods — kwek-kwek (boiled quail egg deep-fried in batter), fish balls, squid balls, green mangoes with bagoong (sauteed fish sauce) and other food stuff. But foods prepared and sold in unsanitary places, such as sidewalks, are also prone to contamination. Dipping sauces and condiments of street foods are haven of bacteria, according to Dr. Ong.
Use your smelling sense and your taste buds to determine if the food is still good to eat. If it doesn’t taste normal or has foul smell, do not eat it.
Refrigerate food, boil drinking water
The Department of Health (DOH) also advised the public to refrigerate left over foods and re-heat them before eating.
DOH says it is also wise to avoid drinking water and other beverages with doubtful quality. “If water quality is doubtful, boil drinking water for at least 20 minutes. Also, avoid sago’t gulaman, fruit juices like buko, melon, or pineapple if you are unsure of where the water came from.”
Clean all utensils, cutlery, pots and pans that you use in preparing your food. Wash raw meat, vegetable and fruits. Clean fish and seafoods thoroughly. Use different knives and cutting boards for meat, fish and vegetables. Wash cutting boards and knives with antibacterial soap and warm to hot water after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs. Using wooden cutting boards is also not recommended, because dirt and bacteria easily builds up on wood.
Always wash your hands before and after eating or handling food.
If you or anyone you know ingest contaminated food or drink contaminated water and beverages, immediately rush to the hospital for first aid and treatment. Diarrhea caused by food poisoning can lead to severe dehydration and even death. ###