Food Poisoning

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The action of food poisoning is almost always caused by eating contaminated food. The normal action of bacterias on food causes decomposition, which lead to the formation of toxins. Another cause of food poisoning is the accidental eating of poisonous fruits, berries or vegetables, such as poisonous mushrooms.

The symptoms of a food poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Onset is acute within the few hours after the contaminated food was consumed. The sooner the symptoms occur, the more serious is the poisoning. The symptoms disappear in 1 to 2 days, after the toxins are excreted by the person.

A severe form of food poisoning is caused by the organism called Clostridium botulinum, thus installing botulism. About half of the cases of botulism lead to death, a common cause for this being the improper sterilization of home-canned foods or the lost of their seal. The symptoms are progressive and they include weakness, fever, paralysis of the eyes and throat muscles, headaches and, finally, respiratory paralysis. If they are given early, specific antitoxins are effective. Until the Emergency Medical Services personnel arrive, rescue breathing is required, as they will maintain the person with the AMBU-bag during transport. Until the antitoxin will take effect, the person may need to be maintained via endotracheal tude on a mechanical ventilator.

There are a few types of bacteria and viruses that can lead to food poisoning. The common organisms for this are Salmonella and Campylobacter, two types of bacteria that are similar. They are both found in warm-blooded animals such as cattle, pigs and may show up in raw meat, milk, cheeses or eggs. Listeria is a bacteria that thrives in soil and in the intestines of animals. It can appear in the types of food listed in the category of Salmonella. Calicivirus is the very common cause that occur in food poisoning, the passing of the virus being thought to be from one infected person to another.

In the optimal conditions, a bacteria can multiply by splitting in two every 10-20 minutes. In just 45 minutes, one bacteria will have multiplied to one million bacteria. To grow and multiply, bacteria need time, moisture, food and warmth. Bacteria can grow at any temperature between 5C and 63C. Temperatures above 70C will destroy bacteria, so food should be cooked at a temperature higher than 70C for 2 minutes. Also, bacteria need moisture to grow, which is one reason why the dried foods have a longer shelf life. If the food contains high levels of sugar, high levels of acid or salt, then the water in the food is not available for the bacteria to develop.

For a bacteria to develop, the food they infest are high in protein and moist. These risk foods include meat, eggs, fish and poultry, mayonnaise and cooked rice. The time in which a bacteria can multiply is very short in the right conditions, so food must not be left in warm conditions for a very long period of time.

The most common danger points that lead to a food poisoning are the wrong cooking process of food, for example not cooking raw chicken sufficiently on a barbecue. Also, preparing food long before it is needed and maintaining it in warm conditions. The cross-contamination from a raw food to a cooked food is a factor that leads to food poisoning.


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