Summer is the season of sunshine, warm weather, and outdoor activities. It’s also the time of year when the risk of food poisoning increases. As the summer heat sets in, it’s important to take extra care when it comes to food safety. The combination of heat and humidity creates the perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply, making it important to take extra precautions when handling and preparing food.
Food borne illnesses, commonly known as food poisoning, are more likely to occur during the summer months since warm temperatures promote bacterial growth.
What is Food Poisoning ?
Food poisoning is a foodborne illness caused by consuming contaminated food or water. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins produced by these organisms. The symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild stomach discomfort to severe dehydration, organ damage, and even death in rare cases.
Common Causes of Food Poisoning in Summer
Bacteria: In the summer, bacteria can multiply quickly in warm and humid conditions. Bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli are commonly found in foods like raw meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
Viruses: Some viruses, like norovirus, can survive on surfaces and in water for a long time, making them easy to spread during the summer. Norovirus can be found in contaminated food, water, and surfaces.
Parasites: Parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia can survive in water, especially in lakes and rivers, which makes it easier to get infected during swimming.
High Temperatures: Bacteria thrive in warm temperatures, and the summer heat provides the perfect environment for them to grow and multiply.
Outdoor Dining: Summer is a time for outdoor picnics, weddings and get-togethers and other events where food is left out in the open for long periods. This can lead to contamination of food and increase the risk of food poisoning.
Undercooked Meat: Undercooked meat can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.
Cross-Contamination: When preparing food, it’s essential to avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for raw and cooked food.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
The symptoms of food poisoning can vary depending on the type of organism that caused it. Common symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last from a few hours to several days. If you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Preventing Food Poisoning in Summer
Cleanliness: Wash your hands with soap and water before handling food, after using the bathroom, and after touching animals. Keep kitchen surfaces and utensils clean and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Temperature: Keep food at the right temperature. Refrigerate perishable food within two hours of purchasing or cooking it. Cook meat, poultry, and eggs to their proper temperature to kill bacteria.
Hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. Avoid drinking untreated water from lakes and rivers.
Cook Food Properly: Make sure to cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, and seafood, to kill any harmful bacteria.
Food safety: Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood.
Storage: Store food properly. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other foods in the refrigerator. Use perishable food within their expiration date.
Food poisoning can be a serious health risk during the summer months. However, by following the proper food safety measures, you can reduce your risk of infection. Keep your kitchen and cooking surfaces clean, wash your hands frequently, cook your food to the right temperature, and stay hydrated. By taking these simple steps, you can enjoy the summer months without worrying about food poisoning.
You can always call up specialists at Archana Hospital if you would like to know more about staying safe in summer and prevent health issues that are common in summer.