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So You’ve Got Food Poisoning: What Next?

by Andrew Thomson on December 18, 2018

Dodgy food gave me food poisoning days out from celebrating Christmas, back in 94 – ironically, I was working in public health at the time. Bedridden for many days with a fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and experiencing severe stomach cramps. Roast turkey was the last thing on mind.

When people get sick, they often think it was the last meal they ate, this is particularly so if this happens to be a meal at a restaurant or takeaway.

The main causes of food borne illness are:

  • preparing foods too far in advance
  • Incorrect cooking of food
  • not defrosting foods correctly
  • storing foods incorrectly (too warm) so that bacteria can grow quickly
  • cross-contamination of food after cooking
  • food contamination from people handling foods due to poor hygiene

Public health authorities will carry out a formal investigation when:

  • they have received the results of the stool samples and the results show that the illness was caused by a food poisoning organism
  • where there are a lot of people from more than one family who are ill
  • where the person suffering works in a food business and handles food.

In some cases, it can be challenging linking your illness to a specific food operation. Very often, the food you had eaten will have been used or thrown away.

So, what can you do?

  • Keep any food that you think made you unwell in the fridge and contact your local council health department. A public health officer will contact you and may wish to sample the food for microbiological examination to try and identify whether the food was the cause of illness.
  • Record the contact details of others who ate the same food or who were in your party at the eatery.
  • Keep a diary of your symptoms – to ensure that nothing is forgotten or incorrectly remembered when recalling events.
  • Take photos of food or of the eatery and record the date and time the photographs were taken.

Final word……

Food handlers suffering from a foodborne illness must inform their employers immediately.

They should not return to work until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

Once they have returned to work it is important to engage in good personal hygiene standards through handwashing as the bacteria can still be passing out of the body when symptoms have stopped. Getting a medical clearance is a safe bet.

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Enjoy the festive season!

Think ST Solutions helps protect and grow food businesses through innovation and risk mitigation strategies. Want further information or advice? Contact Andrew Thomson: info@thinkststsolutions.com.au