How to prevent food poisoning

accreditation

Reports suggest that, in South Africa, acute poisoning is responsible for up to 17% of total ward admissions in children. And according to statistics, in 2010 5% of all deaths in South Africa were the result of food poisoning-related complications.

A Health24 article states that food poisoning is usually caused by the consumption of food that is contaminated by bacteria, parasites or viruses. The most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

Food poisoning can be fatal

Food poisoning usually clears up by itself, but can be deadly because of dehydration or respiratory problems, especially in the elderly, children and pregnant women, or when someone's immune system is compromised.

Instances of food poisoning often happen in our own homes. It's very likely that you can think of at least one incident that made you never want to touch a certain food again. 

Food safety often questioned

Then there are incidents that make us question food safety. In 2015, News24 reported that 56 people were taken to Pietermaritzburg hospitals after showing signs of food poisoning at school. But many such episodes can be prevented, and proper sanitation when handling food is key, experts say. 

"If all of us washed our hands and were careful with food, it would greatly reduce the number of infections we see," said Dr Ross Rodgers, an emergency medicine physician at Penn State Medical Center.

Food poisoning can be avoided

Rodgers offered these tips in a hospital news release:

1. Discard leftover marinade

Never use leftover marinade on cooked foods, and don't use utensils that have touched uncooked food to serve prepared items.

 raw chicken in marinade

2. Ensure that meat is cooked at the proper temperature

Use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is cooked to a safe temperature. (That's 63°C for beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts or chops; 71°C for ground meat and meat mixtures; and 74°C degrees for poultry, according to the US website Foodsafety.gov.)

 meat thermometer in steak

3. Wash those vegetables

While many people try to be careful with raw meat, seafood, poultry and eggs, disease-causing viruses and bacteria also can be present on fresh produce and other types of food. Always wash produce and leafy greens.

 washing lettuce

4. Steer clear of dodgy restaurants

When eating out, try to assess the cleanliness of a restaurant. "If the place seems clean and tidy, they probably follow good practices with their food. If it looks a bit shady, I would move to another place," Rodgers said. If possible, check the restaurant's health inspection information.

chef preparing food

You can contact the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre on their 24 hour emergency number (0861 555 777) if you suspect you or someone in your family has ingested a poisonous substance. 

Images provided by iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Gauteng DA leader Solly Msimanga says the party's voters want it to explore conditional coalition talks with the ANC. 
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It's a step in the right direction. An ANC-DA coalition would be the most stable option for SA
32% - 3839 votes
The DA should focus on working with all opposition parties, including the EFF, to unseat the ANC
14% - 1714 votes
The DA should rather remain in opposition than form a coalition with the ANC or the EFF
53% - 6271 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.28
-1.6%
Rand - Pound
20.86
-2.7%
Rand - Euro
18.02
-2.7%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.75
-3.4%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-2.4%
Gold
1,769.59
+1.1%
Silver
22.18
+4.3%
Palladium
1,890.69
+2.7%
Platinum
1,041.50
+3.5%
Brent Crude
83.03
-0.2%
Top 40
68,564
+2.6%
All Share
74,828
+2.3%
Resource 10
73,434
+2.8%
Industrial 25
90,489
+2.7%
Financial 15
16,396
+1.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE