Food poisoning is something that can affect anybody. It is caused by eating contaminated or spoilt food. The food does not have to look or smell bad before you get poisoned from eating it. The food could get contaminated during the cooking or serving phase. There are over 1.5 million cases of food poisoning in Nigeria. This article discusses the causes of food poisoning in Nigeria, and how you can avoid them.
This usually causes the individual to feel sick and have symptoms that include diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, nausea, and more. Sometimes, these symptoms appear just few hours after eating the food. Other times, it can take several days before one starts to feel anything. Then, it would be difficult to determine what food caused the poisoning. People who have food poisoning are advised to visit the hospital immediately for proper care, even if they are not sure what the cause is.
The causes of food poisoning vary as it could be caused by the type of ingredients used, the condition of the ingredients, or how the food was cooked. In this post, we would be exploring some of the causes of food poisoning, and how to avoid them.
Microbes like bacteria, viruses, and parasites are the leading causes of food poisoning. Hepatitis A virus can also be transmitted through food and lead to a serious condition. Microbes make their way to food through various ways, such as being dropped by flies and other insects, and so on. Most times, we buy the food with the microbes on it. These microbes are present in things like meat, fish, poultry, raw eggs, dairy products, and more. The only way to get rid of these microbes in your food is by cooking your food properly.
Avoid undercooking your food for whatever reason. Washing your meats and fish with water would not remove the microbes from it. These microbes are also present outside of food as they could be on our hands. That is why it is advised that you wash your hands well with soap after using the toilet and before handling food. Common Nigerian foods like suya, kunu, poorly prepared “shawarma”, poorly cooked soups and dairy products are easily contaminated.
Wash fruits, vegetables, meats and poultry with vinegar or salt. Additionally, heat them to an appropriate temperature.
2. Unripe Fruits
People could also get food poisoning from eating unripe fruits and vegetables. Some of these fruits, like mangoes and cherries, could lead to gastrointestinal issues when eaten and could even lead to dysentery. This is because they still have a high acidic content which makes them generally unsafe for eating. Many pre-prepared fruits salads that are sold around Nigeria can cause food poisoning. Contaminated watermelon is one particular fruit that has been linked to food poisoning a lot.
3. Dirty Utensils
Another reason why people have food poisoning is that they use dirty utensils for cooking and eating. Using dirty plates and spoons to eat is highly unadvisable because of the problems it could lead to, including stomach upset. That is why you should always wash your utensils before eating and immediately after eating. Make sure you wash the kitchen sink, dishcloths and sponges in hot water as often as possible.
4. Spoilt Food
Eating spoilt food could also cause food poisoning. Food that was prepared days ago would have lost its freshness and would also have microbes growing on it. When you eat such food, you put yourself at risk of food poisoning. Sadly, you could be served spoilt food anywhere, even at restaurants. To prevent this, you should learn to store your food properly. Keeping food in the refrigerator is the best way to preserve it for a longer time. It would help keep your food fresh whenever you need it.
5. Contaminated Water
Food poisoning is not limited to food alone but even water as well. Drinking contaminated or dirty water could result in symptoms of food poisoning. That is why you should always be sure of your water source. Good water is one without smell, colour, or taste. But even that is not enough to qualify the water as drinkable. You should take the extra step to boil your water before drinking. Also, if you are going to use it to cook, make sure the water heats up properly before adding your ingredients. Many Nigerians opt to buy original bottled water to drink so as to avoid food poisoning.