Christmas, a wonderful time of year. It’s also a time where food poisoning cases spike. To help you avoid food poisoning this festive season, we have some simple tips below along with advice on what to do if it does strike your household.
How to Avoid Food Poisoning
- Keep raw meat, particularly poultry, away from other foods. Don’t let meat drip onto other foods, use separate chopping boards and knives for prepping meat and wash your hands after touching raw meat to avoid contaminating other foods. Remember, poultry does not need washing before cooking and actually spreads bacteria increasing the likelihood of food poisoning.
- Defrost meat properly, either in the fridge or microwave. If buying turkey, read the thawing instructions on the pack. It’s also a wise idea to invest in meat thermometer to ensure even cooking.
- Avoid raw eggs. Christmas is not the time to experiment with raw egg dishes. These should be avoided by infants, pregnant women and the elderly.
- Store food at the right temperature. Cold food needs to be kept chilled below 5˚C and hot foods need to be kept above 60°C until ready to serve. It’s worth checking your fridge temperature and if you’re struggling for room, consider putting drinks on ice instead as drinks can’t make you sick with food poisoning. Food is the priority in keeping the correct temperature. Also watch you don’t overload the fridge as this prevents the cold air circulating around the food and keeping it at the correct temperature.
- Don’t leave food out all day. Starters should be packed away once mains are served. And whatever is leftover from mains should be refrigerated afterwards.
- Transporting food? Keep any food on the move cool. Use an insulated bag with ice bricks to keep food cold while heading over to Nan’s.
- Leftovers should be eaten within a couple of days or frozen immediately.
- If in doubt, chuck it out. Not sure how long something has been in the fridge or how long it was left out before being refridgerated? Don’t risk food poisoning, bin it instead.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Symptoms of food poisoning may vary depending on the type of food poisoning you have. Typically, symptoms include diarrhoea, fever (a temperature over 37.5 C in adults and over 38 C in children), nausea and vomiting.
Food Poisoning Treatment
The main thing to remember with food poisoning is to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Over the counter medicines for diarrhoea can help, but bear in mind that this is the body’s way of removing what’s making you sick!
- Start with small sips or ice cubes.
- It’s probably best to wait until your stomach settles before trying foods. When you do feel ready to eat, start with bland, non fatty foods like toast, rice or crackers.
- Consider drinking an electrolyte solution to replace the minerals lost with vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Avoid dairy, caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks, or spicy and fatty foods as they may re-upset your stomach.
Please call your doctor if food poisoning strikes infants, those over 60, pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system. It is worth seeing your doctor if symptoms worsen or dehydration has kicked in.