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Prevent Food Poisoning on Holidays

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Food poisoning occurs during the production of food during harvest, preparation or the handleing or eating of expired food. You run a greater risk of eating something contaminated when you go on holiday to a warmer country or a country where they follow different hygiene rules. Foods become contaminated due to contact with bacteria, virus or fungi in water, packaging, soil and even on certain kinds of plants during the growing stage. Lack of cleanliness or the spread of contamination by hands, surfaces and utensils are the common reason for the spread of food poison.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning occurs after eating food that has been contaminated. This is not always from food that has been stored to long or in to Some cases, food was not stored or prepared properly allowing bacteria and fungi to multiply rapidly. Bacteria excretes toxins that we eat and that eventually becomes released into our blood steam. Cooking or under cooking foods can kill bacteria and fungi, but the toxins remain. Symptoms of food poisoning include abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea and/or vomiting. Most symptoms occur within a few hours after eating the wrong foods.

Why does it hurt so bad?

Food poisoning heals itself in most cases. Your body wants to get rid of the toxins as quickly as possible. Vomiting and diarrhea are the quickest way to expel toxins. Once the toxins are out of your body, the symptoms disappear. When the vomiting and the diarrhea are abundant, especially combined with hot weather, chances are that you can become dehydrated. Therefore it is important to keep drinking. In addition to water you can take ORS (oral rehydration salt). These are available at any drugstore and help to quickly rehydrate lost fluids. Consult a doctor if you also suffer from fever, blood and mucus in the stool, severe vomiting or signs of dehydration such as drowsiness and less urination.

Prevent food poisoning on holidays

Preventing food poisioning can be done by not cross contaminating other foods while you are cooking. Hands and utensils need to be washed after handling uncooked meats. Never re-use the same utensil on uncooked meats to stir other foods. A hygienic preparation of food is important. While on holiday this can be tricky, because you are often on the street or in a restaurant and do not know how the food is being handled and prepared. Be careful if you decide to eat something on vacation at a local market or a beach. Heat combined with poor food hygiene practically guarantees food poisoning. Always look critically at the conditions in which the food is cooked. How does the food look and does the staff seem to work hygienically? If you go to a restaurant, always choose a restaurant where it is busy. In busy restraurants food will not remain long in the premises, so it does not get the chance to spoil. Stay away from (partially) raw meat, fish and sea food on holiday in an unfamiliar restaurant or at a local market. Fish can often be farmed or exposed to contaminated water or not checked for contaminates such as parasites in the meat. Parasites are common in fish and bacteria is common on the surface chicken. Always check that the meat is thoroughly cooked before you eat it. Never order rare meats and always pack hydration salts and medications to help with diarrhea just in case the un-thinkable happens.

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