Food Poisoning Causes and Prevention

When we eat contaminated food, infectious organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins causes food poisoning which is also called food borne illness.

Food Poisoning Causes and Prevention


Contamination can also occur at home if food is not handled or cooked properly. Common symptoms of food poisoning are Nausea, vomiting, Watery diarrhoea, Abdominal pain, cramps and Fever.


Parasites in the fish and meat

The poisoning are due to either micro-organisms or toxins in food. Food infections are caused by parasites in the meat or fish. The infections like tapeworms, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis and brucellosis are caused by the consumption of meat and undercooked fish and brucellosis because of contaminated milk.


There are a large number of mycotoxins that may contaminate food.  Mycotoxins are produced by fungi that infect growing crops mainly during storage.  They can then be found in the livestock feed and thus in meat or milk.

Canned foods

Canned foods specially improperly canned commercial foods like smoked or salted fish, potatoes baked in aluminum foil, and other foods which are kept at warm temperatures for too long.


Poisoning linked to the eggs are salmonellosis.  This is caused by bacteria called salmonella of which we have  over a thousand varieties.  The eggs are not the only ones affected but also products like sausage, meat, ice cream, pastries may also be contaminated.  But it is true that in the case of eggs, battery farming promotes the spread of these germs.

Dairy products

Milk is a product which, if improperly packaged or stored can lead to food poisoning.  Listeria or Salmonella, for example, can be found in many cheeses.  One of the main harmful bacteria in dairy products is staphylococcus which is responsible for Diarrhoea and can cause dehydration (dangerous in children and the elderly).  Finally, some pollutants such as dioxin can pass into the milk.  Fortunately, the dairy sector is one of the most controlled sector who tries hard to lower the risks.

High-risk groups are :

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • Infants and young children
  • People with chronic disease


– Never eat egg which is of more than 28 days after the laying date indicated on the packaging.  If egg is not stored in the refrigerator, the condensation on the shell allow germs to pass through more easily.  But better not to leave them at room temperature under high heat.

– It is imperative to follow the conservation advice for dairy products and meet consumer deadlines.  Pasteurized milk can be kept closed seven days and 48 hours after opening.  Sterilized milk UHT to be kept for three months if closed, and two days after opening.  For cheeses, follow the dates.

– Avoid foods which may be commonly affected like Raw meat and poultry, undercooked fish, undercooked eggs, raw sprouts, unpasteurized juices and milk products.

– Wash your hands and utensils properly with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food.

Stop cross-contamination by keeping ready to eat and raw food separately.

– You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to the right temperature.

–  Refrigerate perishable foods within one hour.

If you aren’t sure if a food has been prepared, served or stored safely, throw it , don’t eat that food.

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