Food poisoning (foodborne illness)

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

What is Food Poisoning

Food poisoning (foodborne illness) is a result of eating food that is contaminated – usually because of bacteria or a virus. It can be an inconvenient experience, but it rarely needs medical attention. With the intake of lot of fluids, good hand hygiene and light meals, you should be back in good health in a day or two.

Food poisoning is a result of you eating contaminated food that has harmful germs, such as Campylobacter, Salmonella or E. coli. Raw foods that include meat, fish and seafood, eggs, poultry, raw fruit and vegetables can have huge levels of germs that easily catch on to other foods and surfaces surrounding the kitchen. Cross contamination among surfaces adds to approximately 40% of all food-borne illnesses. For these reasons, we need to take utmost care while handling or preparing food in the kitchen. Make sure that you remember the four Cs of food hygiene: cross-contamination, cleaning, chilling, and cooking.

Causes of Food Poisoning

Some of the prime culprits of food poisoning are Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia coli (E.coli) and Norovirus (winter vomiting virus)

Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Consuming undercooked or raw food (especially sausages, kebabs, pork, poultry and burgers)
  • Food products that has crossed the expiry date or has not been refrigerated properly.
  • Consumption of food handled by someone suffering from diarrhea or vomiting
  • Cross contamination (where germs from a contaminated food is spread to other foods)

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Depending on the type of germ involved, symptoms can arise anytime from one to 36 hours after the consumption of contaminated food

You may experience one or more of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Other symptoms may include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • High temperature
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills

If you are ever down with a stomach virus or upset stomach, make sure that you consume plenty of fluids and take an oral rehydration solution (ORS) if you can. This will help in refilling the minerals and salts that you would have lost due to vomiting or diarrhea. ORS come in sachets and are easy to dissolve in water.

Try to eat normally, but have small and light meals. Stay away from rich, spicy, salty or sugary foods.

If you are suffering for more than a day or two, or if you are feeling pain, have a word with your healthcare advisor.

Prevention Tips

Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to prevent a foodborne illness. Follow the 4c’s of Food Safety.


  • Practice good hand hygiene: Practice good hand hygiene: Remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, and before and after preparing and eating food – if you are out and about and can’t get to a tap, try Dettol Multi-Use Wipes or Hand Sanitiser to to stay protected from germs.
  • Clean and disinfect food preparation surfaces: After preparing food (especially raw meat, fish or eggs), use a Dettol Kitchen Gel to wipe on any kitchen surfaces that you’ve used. Dirty utensils, cutlery and crockery can be cleaned with detergent and hot water.

Cook food thoroughly

Ensure reheated food is piping hot throughout and never reheat it more than once. Non vegetarian food should be cooked all the way through – no sign of pink meat.

Cool, cover and refrigerate cooked food within one hour

Separate large portions into smaller containers if needed to speed up cooling. Follow packaging guidelines for refrigerating fresh food and consume (or dispose of) food within its ‘use by’ date.

Avoid cross contamination

Avoid cross contamination

Remember to wash your hands before preparing food and directly after handling raw ingredients. You should also prepare raw food away from cooked food in the kitchen using different utensils and chopping boards. Never store raw food above cooked food in the fridge as drips could contaminate the cooked food.