Have you ever had severe and unexpected symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting? As a chef, I know that is what you get when you leave your food out. Food poisoning occurs when viruses or bacteria get into drinks and food.  If it happens to you, it may cause you to be confused. In case of food poisoning, ensure to drink lots of fluids. While you cannot smell, see or taste these germs, the minute organisms might have a consequence on the body.

Causes of food poisoning

Boy and girl eating

Drinking and eating contaminated food can trigger food poisoning. Although most of the time people get food poisoning from animal foodstuffs, other raw foods might get infected and cause you to be sick. But did you know liquids and food may be germ-infected at various points during preparation, handling, and storage? Here are some causes of food contamination.

  • Storing food in improper temperatures and for a long time: Once the food is contaminated even re-heating it at high temperatures will not make it safe for eating.
  • Poor food handling hygiene by cooks can also cause food to be contaminated. Use of unclean utensils by food handlers can cause contamination
  • Poultry or meat can get contaminated during processing.
  • Contaminated water used for growing vegetables or food

Signs and symptoms of food poisoning

The symptoms of food poisoning may depend on the germs that triggered it. Some symptoms show up within an hour of eating germ-infected food and others can take some day to appear. The symptoms and signs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • A headache and overall weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever

In some cases people who have food poisoning may have a blurred vision and feel dizzy. It may also cause shortness of breath but in rare cases. While most food poisoning cases do not need medication, some do. Dehydration is one of the most severe problems one may have. You may see a doctor if you have a pounding heart, extreme thirst, severe abdominal pain, and bloody feces.

How to prevent food poisoning

washing vegetables

  • Store leftovers at low temperatures quickly, if possible in pots with lids
  • Thaw food in cold water, microwave, or a refrigerator. Food must never be defrosted at room temperature
  • Throw expired food, or if it tastes bad
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables that you cannot peel

Why is it important to keep food at the right temperature?

If you have had several cases of food poisoning, I have a secret to share with you. I have some rules that I follow at work that help me guarantee food remains at the right temperature hence preventing my customers from falling sick:

  • Cook animal-based foods to a safe in-house temperature makes them safe for consumption while avoiding food poisoning. If you are cooking pork and beef, cook it at 160°F. The appropriate temperature for solid meat cuts is 63°C.
  • Avoid getting food poisoning by keeping food at refrigerated temperatures. This can be vital for food leftovers that could be used again for another meal. Quick refrigeration and cooling, or holding at 140°F can help prevent bacteria from growing. It can also ensure toxins cannot form.


While keeping food at the right temperature is essential, washing hands after the toilet and cleaning utensils that are used to prepare food can be useful.