With so many cases of food poisoning, we now know that it’s riskier to consume normal food that might have been contaminated than to eat bugs.
But fret not; I’m here to help you out by giving you nine must-knows about food poisoning so that you minimise your chances of getting it.
Because it’s seriously no fun having to visit the toilet every hour just because you’ve eaten something that looks normal.
1. Always Wash Your Hands
Okay, this is Captain Obvious but obviously, not everyone does this.
When you are cooking, ALWAYS wash your hands.
And I don’t just mean before and after cooking.
When prepping ingredients, wash your hand between each ingredient. This prevents any type of cross-contamination between your ingredients.
And always, always, always, wash your hands after touching raw meat.
Remember, cooking in high heat doesn’t mean you’re safe from food poisoning.
If you can, wash your hands with soap. It’s better safe than sorry.
2. Smell Your Ingredients Before Cooking
In the spirit of not cross-contaminating food ingredients, and washing your hands after touching raw meats, this is an important one.
Singaporeans love a good Hotpot. And Korean BBQ. And Steamboat. And Mookata.
But before you dive into cooking your food, smell the ingredients. It should smell fresh, not sour or stale.
Once it passes the sniff test, you are free to cook your food.
But make sure that you don’t use the same utensils to cook the food that you do to eat your food.
And please never use the same utensils to cook raw meat, seafood and vegetables.
Allocate different utensils for each genre of food.
And for the love of all that is clean, do not put the cooked food on the plate that had the raw meats or seafood or vegetables, even.
3. Expiry Dates Isn’t There Just For Show
This seems pretty duh but you’ll be surprised at how many people ignore the expiry dates on packages.
Like my colleague’s mother who always says that expiry dates are just to-be-safe kind of things.
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Please don’t do that.
Expiry dates are there for a reason. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened the package or the can.
Opened or not, after its expiry date, it is no longer safe to eat.
The chances of you getting food poisoning are very, very, very high.
So please have a look at the expiry dates of things in your pantry that you often overlook.
Check the expiry dates on that soy sauce bottle, the hoisin fish sauce, the stock cubes, chilli bottles, soup pastes, everything.
4. Cook frozen food according to instructions
If there is another thing we all love, it would be frozen foods.
From frozen dumplings to spring rolls, to seaweed chicken, fishballs, and those cheesy tofu fishcakes.
But the one very common way you get food poisoning is when you ignore the cooking direction on the back of the packages.
If it says that the food item needs to be cooked for 6 minutes, it needs to be cooked for 6 minutes precisely.
Not 4, not 5, but 6 full minutes.
It’s always better to overcook your food than undercook it and get food poisoning anyway.
5. Only eat hot, cooked food when travelling
Most Singaporeans travel.
Yes, I think of going to JB for a weekend as travelling.
Here, we don’t discriminate.
But when you leave the country to visit places where contamination of food is more likely, exclusively eat hot, cooked foods.
If they prepare it in front of you, even better. Make sure the place you’re eating at is relatively clean too.
And always do the sniff test before eating to detect if anything smells sour or off.
No matter how hungry you are.
6. Bacterial food poisoning vs Viral food poisoning
There are two types of food poisoning.
One is bacterial, which involves getting Salmonella or E.coli.
The other one is the one that people experience most regularly: the viral type.
That’s why when you suspect that you’ve got food poisoning, visit the doctor.
None of the, aiya, it will get better in time nonsense. Because if you have a bacterial food poisoning, you are going to need antibiotics.
Getting a fever and the chills are both symptoms of bacterial food poisoning that you won’t experience if you have the viral type of food poisoning.
7. Drink lots of water during your food poisoning period
If you are unfortunate enough to have contracted food poisoning, don’t worry.
We’ve all been there.
Since you’ll be rushing to the toilet every so often as your body purges everything, you’re going to be quite low on liquids and blood sugar.
And if you don’t replace them, you are going to feel dehydrated and extremely exhausted. Which really sucks.
You might even have some raging headaches come on.
Luckily there is a very simple solution to this that we take for granted.
Hydration. Or simply put, drink a lot of water.
Double your fluid intake if possible, with half of the intake being energy drinks like 100+ to replace your electrolytes and blood sugar, and the other half being plain water.
8. Ginger Tea
Ginger is a popular ancient remedy against nausea.
Which makes it your best friend during any bouts of food poisoning.
And since, it is quite unlikely that any of us are going to just bite into raw ginger, ginger tea with honey and a couple of drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice is your best bet.
The ginger and honey will quell most of the symptoms of food poisoning and nausea. They will also help relieve inflammation and pain in the area.
The acid from the lemon juice will help your body kill the bacteria inside your body causing food poisoning.
This drink will make your recovery process smoother and less painful.
Like I said, your new best friend!
After the 2-3 day mark, depending on how severe your food poisoning was, you can finally reintroduce food back into your body!
But not just any food.
Any dairy, oily, spicy and fried food is going to make you spiral back into hell.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You are going to have to stick to bland foods for a week at least.
That means, bread, plain soup, rice, plain crackers, bananas and even yogurt (but not in excess).
Introduce probiotics into your body too – you can take probiotic supplements or have natural yoghurt.
This will help get your gut working as it should and make sure it’s all healthy and good in there again.
And there you go, nine facts about food poisoning you should be aware of to minimise your risk of getting it, and to help you out if you have it!
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