Food poisoning is a harsh reality in our lives today. Each year, there are about 76 million cases of food poisoning in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether you are going to eat out at your favorite restaurant, preparing a home-cooked meal or having a picnic lunch at the park, food poisoning is a real risk all of us face on a daily basis. But, how much do we actually know about food poisoning, its causes and what to do if we become ill?
Here are four things we should all know about food poisoning:
1. All types of pathogens cause food poisoning. While salmonella, E.coli and listeria are bacteria most commonly featured in news articles associated with food poisoning, viruses also commonly cause food-borne illnesses. In fact, noroviruses, which are notorious for sickening cruise ship passengers, cause more than half of all food poisoning cases in the U.S. Be sure to wash your fresh foods before eating. Wash your hands before you prepare any food.
2. Food poisoning doesn’t always happen because of contaminated food. Sounds crazy, right? It’s true. These illnesses actually spread through fecal matter. It happens more often and more easily than you think. If you touch someone that a contaminated person has touched and you eat your food later without washing your hands, germs can spread. You could also get those germs by touching animals. Good hand-washing habits are invaluable when it comes to preventing food-borne illnesses.
3. Food borne illnesses are not just caused by meat. Just take a look at non-meat products that have been recalled recently over food poisoning concerns including leafy greens, eggs, frozen vegetables, fruits, nuts, even spices. Always take proper precautions when preparing food. It’s always a good idea to cook foods to safe temperatures before eating.
4. Do not self-medicate if you feel ill. You need prompt medical attention if you are suffering from food poisoning symptoms, be it severe stomach cramps, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or muscle aches. Be wary of severe dehydration, which is often caused by food poisoning. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
If you have suffered from food poisoning as a result of a contaminated food product or from eating at a restaurant, please remember that you have legal rights and options. You may be eligible to receive compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Contact an experienced California food poisoning lawyer who can provide you with more information about pursuing your rights.