Food poisoning (Part-1)

food May 31, 2021
Photo by Spencer Davis / Unsplash

Food poisoning is the illness caused by eating contaminated, spoiled, or toxic food. Any food, which is improperly cooked or stored, can cause food poisoning. Most foods contain bacteria and if they are not kept in the right conditions, these bacteria can breed rapidly and cause food poisoning.

Contaminated foods left for more than an hour at warm temperature, provide ideal conditions for bacterial proliferation and this causes food poisoning. This is more common in summer than in winter.
So, it is important to store food properly through the hotter months. The temperature inside the refrigerator should be between 0 – 5o C.

Food contamination may be accidental or intentional and may occur by physical, chemical or biological means.

Physical contamination can be through hair, glass or metal, fingernails, jewellery, dirt, etc.

Chemical contamination is through chemical substances which enter food and are foreign to it like cleaning agents, detergents, pesticides, fungicides, natural toxins, minerals, metals, veterinary medicines, non-permitted colors, preservatives, chemicals migrated from packaging material, lubricating oil etc.

Biological contamination is by living organisms such as microorganisms, insects, rodents, pets, pests, etc.

There is another type of contamination known as cross-contamination which occurs due to the transfer of contaminants from one source to another such as dirty clothes, hands, utensils, improper personal hygiene, pests, mixing of cooked food with raw food, improper waste and garbage control, etc.

The major contamination is caused by certain types of bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins.

Foods that are most susceptible to contamination are, spoilt oily fish, shellfish from dubious sources,  undercooked poultry and meat, unpasteurized milk products, rice which is kept warm for long periods, eggs with cracked shells, raw or lightly cooked eggs, and vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, green and red leafy vegetables, Sprouts and tomatoes.

Vegetable Market
Photo by Peter F / Unsplash

People at high risk from food poisoning are pregnant women, the elderly, infants, the chronically sick, and those with weak immune systems.


Food poisoning symptoms may appear from a few minutes to several days after eating contaminated food.
The typical symptoms are nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, sometimes fever and occasionally, chill, weakness and dizziness.

These symptoms are not life threatening except botulism which requires immediate medical attention. If fever develops or the symptoms persist for more than two days, we should consult a doctor.

When we visited Utö, the most outer island of this beautiful archipelago in the place we call Finland, I allowed myself to be guided by the incredible energy of  Inca, the daughter of the family we were visiting there. She took me to a series of abandoned bunkers from the times this island was a military strategic point and there I found this graffiti that represent very well  the feeling of all that has to do with military, war, conflict and drama. 

With love from Korpo.
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor / Unsplash


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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