Avoiding food poisoning
Joseph W. Winchell, D.O., is an emergency medicine physician at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa.
Question: What are some common types of food poisoning, and how can I avoid getting sick?
Answer: While the U.S. food supply is considered very safe, bacteria can contaminate food and make you ill.
Symptoms of food poisoning include abdominal pain, vomiting, a low-grade fever, and diarrhea that can be watery or even bloody.
Typically lasting only 24 hours, food poisoning is very uncomfortable but not usually life-threatening, unless your immune system is vulnerable from another health condition.
Common causes of food poisoning include listeria, E coli, salmonella and campylobacter, all of which can contaminate raw fruits and vegetables. Listeria also affects unpasteurized dairy and processed deli meats. E coli occurs in ground beef and raw juice and milk, and salmonella can be found in poultry, eggs, raw meats, and processed foods like peanut butter. If food comes into contact with certain viruses such as norovirus and Hepatitis A, food poisoning may also result.
More than 76 million cases of food poisoning are reported each year, but you can avoid getting sick with a few simple steps. Always make sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling food. Keep raw meats separate from ready-to-eat foods to avoid any cross-contamination, and cook and store foods at proper temperatures to maintain freshness.
If you suspect you have food poisoning, please seek medical attention if your symptoms persist for longer than 24 hours, you are unable to keep food or liquid down, or your symptoms are severe, including an ongoing fever, significant pain, or bloody diarrhea. If you become ill and your immune system is already compromised by another condition, call your doctor immediately.