Foodborne Illnesses - Prevention, Diagnosis and Treament

Prevention of foodborne illnesses

Foodborne illnesses can be prevented through proper cooking or processing of food, which kills bacteria. In addition, since the bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F, food must be kept out of this temperature range.
Tips to be followed to prevent harmful bacteria from growing in food:

1. Refrigeration of foods promptly. If the prepared food stands at room temperature for more than two hours, it is considered unsafe to eat. Always set the refrigerator at 40°F or lower and freezer at 0°F.

2. Cook foods to the appropriate internal temperature. Foods are considered to be properly cooked only when they are heated long enough and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illnesses.

3. Prevent cross-contamination. Bacteria easily spreads from one food product to another throughout the kitchen and can get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges, cooking utensils and countertops. All ready-to-eat foods should be kept away from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices.

4. Handle food properly. Always wash the hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water before and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, or eggs. Wash the hands after using the bathroom, changing the diapers, or touching the pet animals.

5. Wash utensils and surfaces before and after use with hot water.

6. Wash the sponges and dish towels once in a week in hot water.

7. Keep the cold food cold and hot food hot.

8. Maintain hot food at 140°F or higher.

9. Reheat the hot cooked food to at least 165°F.

10. Refrigerate or freeze the perishable foods and prepared food.

11. Use the refrigerator, cold running water, or the microwave oven for defrosting food.

12. Never let food marinate at room temperature always refrigerate it.

13. Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator.

14. Remove the stuffing from poultry and other meats and immediately refrigerate it in a separate container.

15. Wash all the unpackaged fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking. Scrub the firm fruits such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush. Dry all with a paper towel to further reduce any possible bacteria.

16. Do not pack the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.

What is food irradiation?

Treatment of food with high energy rays such as gamma rays, electron beams, or x-rays as a means of cold pasteurization, which destroys living bacteria to control foodborne illnesses is called as food irradiation. Food irradiation is approved for food items such as wheat, potatoes, spices, seasonings, pork, poultry, red meats, whole fresh fruits, and dry or dehydrated products. Although irradiation destroys bacteria, it is not able to sterilize food. Even though if we use food that has been irradiated by the manufacturer, we must continue to take precautions against foodborne illnesses by proper refrigeration and handling—to safeguard against any surviving organisms. If we are traveling with food, it must be made sure that perishable items such as meats are wrapped to prevent any leakage. Be sure that the cooler is filled with plenty of ice and store it in the car.

Diagnosis of foodborne illnesses

1. Examination of the feces.

2. A sample of the suspected food, if available, is tested for bacterial toxins, viruses, and parasites.

Treatment of foodborne illnesses

1. Most cases of foodborne illnesses are mild and treated by increasing the fluid intake, either orally or intravenously, to replace the fluids and electrolytes lost.

2. People who experience gastrointestinal or neurologic symptoms must immediately seek medical attention.

3. Hospitalization may be needed for HUS patients to receive supportive nutritional and medical therapy.

4. Adequate fluid and electrolyte balance and controlling blood pressure are important in the treatment.

5. Minimization of the impact of reduced kidney function. Dialysis may be needed until the kidneys can function normally.

6. Blood transfusions.

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