Dealing with food poisoning in kids
Food poisoning can occur no matter what the food, and can be dangerous. Here's what parents should do when your child is hit with it, without panicking!
Food poisoning is a scary thought. We’d like to assume that the food we purchase to prepare for our families or purchase in a restaurant is safe to eat. But that’s not always the case.
Why do we hear so much this?
Food poisoning isn’t a new issue. It’s been around since the beginning of time. But the effects of contaminated food have a much greater impact these days due to the global importing and exporting of food stuff. Instead of growing our own food, we depend upon mega-growers and producers to do the job for us. So, if there’s a contaminated crop of lettuce, the potential for danger is huge. It’s not going to affect only the family whose garden it grew in.
How food becomes contaminated
There is no one answer to that question. Instead, there are several reasons that can cause life-threatening problems (or problems that make life miserable for a while):
- Unsanitary growing conditions–feedlots and feeder houses that mass produce livestock for meat have been sited more than a few times for unsanitary feeding and living conditions for the animals.
- Improper and unsanitary equipment–milk storage tanks, refrigeration compartments etc; the need for proper and clean equipment is essential throughout the entire process from cow to your refrigerator.
- Improper use of fertilisers–growers have been known to use fertilisers that shouldn’t be used on food for human consumption.
- Negligent transportation methods.
- Improper cleaning of food before eating
- Improper storage/temperature control in the store or in your home
- Improper cooking methods–not cooking thoroughly, using dirty utensils, etc.
Symptoms of food poisoning
While everyone is susceptible to food poisoning, children are more so, due to their young digestive and weaker immune systems (to fight off germs) as well as the lesser amounts of stomach acids, enzymes and good bacteria compared to the adult system. Because this is so and because some forms of food poisoning are fatal, it is important for you, as a parent, to know the signs of food poisoning and what to do.
- Severe Headache
- Stomach cramps (severe)
- Bloody stools/diarrhea
- Aching muscles
If your child exhibits these symptoms don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
NOTE: The symptoms usually present themselves rather abruptly.
Treatment for food poisoning
Among the most important treatments is hydration. Keeping the body flushing itself of toxins is imperative. Water, of course is best choice, as are fluids that provide electrolytes. The doctor may or may not want to induce further vomiting–depending on the type of food poisoning.
Most common culprits
The foods most commonly responsible for causing food poisoning include:
- Meat that is undercooked or left to set out too long
- Shell fish
- Honey in children under 1 year of age
- Fruits and vegetables that have not been washed clean of chemicals, dirt, waste and fertilisers
- Eggs that have been handled improperly
- Packaged foods that are consumed after their expiration date or that have been improperly packaged
An ounce of prevention…
That’s right–it’s a whole lot more pleasant and responsible to prevent food poisoning in your children (and you, too) than to have to worry about treating it. While it is true there is no way to completely avoid something happening as a result of eating out, the following is a list of things you can do to cut the risk of food poisoning dramatically.
- Consume only foods that are cooked thoroughly and kept at the right and safe temperature
- Consume fruits and veggies that are washed and cleaned thoroughly
- Wash your hands before serving food
- Wash your hands, utensils, dishes and cooking surfaces with disinfectant
- Use foods within their recommended dates of consumption
- Make sure your children wash their hands before eating