Most of us have experienced it. We wake up in the middle of the night, sick as a dog. Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. In any given year, nearly 50 million people in the U.S. suffer an attack of food poisoning.
Here are some of the myths and facts about food poisoning.
Myth One: If I get food poisoning, it is probably caused by the last thing I ate.
Fact: Not so. According to www.foodsafety.gov, food poisoning is the result of food contaminated by bacteria, viruses or other toxins that can take days to manifest itself. Sometimes it can be weeks or months. Once the bacteria is in the body, it establishes itself in the digestive tract and begins to produce more toxins that may take time to multiply to the point that they cause illness.
Myth Two: Home cooked food is safe.
Fact: While it is true that most cases of food poisoning are caused by eating hospital or restaurant food, the number two highest number comes from home cooked food. Things like thawing meat on a counter where bacteria rapidly multiply at room temperature or rinsing meat or poultry (causing spatters that spread bacteria), are the main culprits. (www.cdc.gov)
Myth Three: It’s safe to eat at restaurants that have a very high food safety score.
Fact: Studies have shown that 2/3 of food borne illness from eating in restaurants comes, not from dirt or poor food safety practices, but from sick workers. (www.foodservicewarehous.com). It’s the chef that came in with the flu or the waitress with strep throat you need to worry about.
Myth Four: If leftovers don’t smell bad, they are okay to eat.
Fact: Contaminated food may well not smell bad. Refrigeration of leftovers only slows down growth of bacteria. Bacteria continues to grow, at a slower rate. Government guidelines suggest that meat and poultry should only be kept in the fridge one to two days and things like lunch meat for up to a week. (www.foodsafety.gov)
Myth Five: Stop eating meat and you will be safe.
Fact: According to webmd.com, Bacteria thrives on protein and so poultry and meat can be riskier than fruits and vegetables. But up to ½ of the cases of food poisoning come from non meat sources. Fruits and vegetables might have been cross contaminated by using the same utensils as with meat. And with imported products, there may well be less control over agricultural practices than in the U.S. Food could be contaminated with chemicals and pesticides that are banned in the U.S.