Food poisoning is most commonly caused through bacteria's that are present within food. It typically takes large quantities of these bacteria to have an affect, but they can multiply in a short space of time. Salmonella is the most common bacteria which brings on abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. Symptoms can persist for more than 48 hours and in these cases it is essential to know how to treat a casualty.

Salmonella is most commonly caused through the under cooking of meat. Examples of this include undercooked burgers or chicken. A combination of a suitable temperature and the correct amount of time is required in order to destroy harmful bacteria. Food poisoning can be further avoided by making sure that food is well refrigerated, in date and free from moisture (dried foods).

All that information may prove useful when trying to prevent food poisoning, but many cases occur when people are not in control of the cooking area. How many burgers, bowls of rice or chicken breasts have you had out over the past few years? In these situations it is just presumed that the kitchen area is in order.

Spotting the symptoms is essential as treatment can be sought once the condition has been diagnosed. Look out for people who have abdominal cramps, persistent vomiting and diarrhea. It can help to ask basic questions about what they have eaten over the past 24 hours; however some food poisoning cases can be delayed by up to 36 hours. Food poisoning is not always the cause of vomiting and diarrhea, Millions of people are affected by the Norovirus each year, which is transmitted from person to person.

Prolonged sickness and cases that are associated with food may need to be treated. It is sensible to advise the casualty to lie down and rest. Bland fluids should be drunk which can help rehydrate the body. However the casualty should sip the fluids at first as large quantities of water may cause further vomiting. Really at this point it is all about rest and rehydration. Eating will probably not be possible, but the body can catch up on lost calories once better.

The main risk associated with food poisoning is acute dehydration. In some cases the body rejects the presence of water to the point where severe dehydration sets in. This can lead to shock (drop in arterial blood pressure) and even death in the most rarest of cases. The way to avoid this is to get the casualty to hospital if they display any of the following signs:

  • Prolonged sickness over 48 hours
  • Inability to hold water over 48 hours

Please note that vulnerable groups like the elderly, pregnant and young children should seek medical help much sooner.

Why not sign up for an in-house food poisoning course

Finally it is important to report all food poisoning cases in a bid to prevent them happening again, whilst at the same time ensuring that other people who were in your company are ok. Unfortunately it is very hard to prove many cases. Sometimes it can strike individually, even when a large group of people go out to dinner.

By Bill Casserley