Food poisoning affects over one hundred thousand people in the United States every year. Sadly, 3,000 people will die every year because of foodborne illness. Those with compromised immune systems, the very young and the very old are most at risk from the dangers of improperly handled food.
You can take preventative steps to avoid food poisoning when you prepare food at home. Basic standards of cleanliness and proper cooking techniques will allow you to enjoy food without the threat of getting sick. But sometimes you don't have as much control over your food. If you go out to eat, or if you buy food that has not been properly processed, you will increase your risk of sickness. County health departments exist to help keep food preparers accountable.
How do I know I have food poisoning?
The symptoms of food poisoning are often similar to flu-like illnesses. Nausea, vomiting and weakness are common symptoms. You might also experience cramping, diarrhea and fever. The symptoms usually appear a few hours to one day after ingesting the contaminated food.
How did I get food poisoning?
Pathogens on the food you ingest causes food poisoning. Some foods, such as raw eggs and meat, are not sterile when sold. Once prepared by heating to the proper temperature, any dangerous bacteria die. You can also get food poisoning from dirty foods, which is why it is important to wash produce before serving. If a person preparing your food does not wash their hands, they can sicken those who eat the food they prepare.
What should I do in case of food poisoning?
If you can't prevent food poisoning by proper storage, handling and preparation of food, then you must take steps once you think you are sick. First, you should seek medical treatment. Again, this is especially important for the elderly, children, and people who are sick or immunocompromised.
If you think you became sick at a restaurant or a large gathering of people, then you should contact your local Massachusetts county health department as soon as possible. Preserve any remnants of the food for testing, if needed. If another entity is responsible for your sickness due to negligence, you may have the basis for a personal injury claim. Food processors and restaurants must remain in compliance with health codes and produce a product that is free from disease.