Food Poisoning


“Food is a weapon” – A very effective weapon for our body
. Though this weapon can turn against our sound health when it loses its nutrients and contain toxic substances in higher quantities. Food poisoning can be a disaster, when contaminated or unintentionally chemical added food is served among people.

Food poisoning may either occur in isolated instances, or may constitute an epidemic (mass food poisoning).

Both contaminated or chemical additives food  may contribute to  food poisoning.  

Which organisation is responsible for the management of food poisoning?

Most of the countries have their own food safety authorities like -

India has Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

USA has Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

UK hasThe Food Standards Agency (FSA)

Causative agents-

1. Microbes: bacteria, viruses, protozoa

2. Parasites

3. Fungi

4. Plants

5. Fish

6. Chemical additives.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of food poisoning vary according to the causative agents involved. If food poisoning happens due to any microbial contamination, the symptoms will be -

  • 1.     Abdominal Cramp
  • 2.   Diarrhoea
  • 3.    Mild Fever
  • 4.    Nausea
  • 5.    Vomiting
  • 6.    Headaches
  • 7.    Loss of appetite

Symptoms of Chemical induced food poisoning are-

  • 1.     Skin patches
  • 2.    Discolouration
  • 3.    Cyanosis (Blue Skin)
  • 4.    Nausea
  • 5.    Vomiting
  • 6.    Diarrhoea
  • 7.    Increased Heart rate & Respiration rate
  • 8.    Headaches

In case of an emergency, the symptoms will be –

  • ·       Diarrhoea persisting for more than three days
  • ·       Higher heart rate and low BP
  • ·       Persisting fever more 101.5oF
  • ·       Blur vision & slurry speech
  • ·       Sever Hematemesis ( Blood in Vomit)
  • ·       Sever dehydration Electrolytes imbalance
  • ·       Haematuria

Who will treat you?

Your near ones may sometimes be a victim of food poisoning. In that case where  should you admit him/her? or Who will treat the condition?

The answer is simple. You should admit him or her to the emergency department or you can take him/her to the nearest physician as soon as possible. The vital signs are observed   &   controlled in life threatening situations.

If the patient is not in a life threatening condition, he can be admitted to IPD.

The toxic substances are then detected by toxicology department in the hospital.

How can the food be toxic for you?


Generally, micro-organisms like bacteria, virus & protozoa are present in raw vegetables, meat, milk, water or other beverages but well cooked vegetables or meat are free from these micro-organism. The food is considered to be contaminated when it is not well cooked. This contaminated food can be the cause of food poisoning.


In this scientific era, cultivation of vegetables or grains has become easier by using various pesticides or fertilizers on a large scale. Pesticides are harmful for pests as well as for humans. The end product or the cultivated product may not be completely free from pesticides.

Some nefarious men sell synthetic vegetables or coloured vegetables to make  good profit. These vegetable can cause severe food poisoning.    

Who is at risk for food poisoning?

Everyone can be a victim of food poisoning. Statistics says nearly everyone come down with food poisoning.

But a certain population are at more risk, like pregnant women, infants, older population. Due to their low immunity and metabolic dysfunctions.    

How can food poisoning be diagnosed?

Doctors can easily diagnose the severity of poisoning on the basis of your symptoms. Doctor can prescribe for :-

  • ·       Stool test
  • ·       Complete Blood count (CBC) (WBC,RBC)
  • ·       Serum Electrolytes
  • ·       Urine test.  

Sometimes they may also analyse the food that you had taken.

How can food poisoning be generally treated?


Mild food poisoning can be treated at home. Oral rehydration therapy is the primary treatment that you can take at home. It will help you to restore the electrolytes & water balance in your body.

If ORS supplement is unavailable at your home, you can make it on your own.


The Oral rehydration therapy is not sufficient in bloody diarrhoea, shock, intestinal ileus, intractable vomiting, high stool output (>10 ml/kg/hr), monosaccharide malabsorption and lactose intolerance.

In that case you should be checked up by a physician for further treatment. The physician may prescribe diagnostic tests and medications to treat the symptoms like Anti-emetics (Ondansetron or Domperidone),  Anti-diarrhoeal(loperamide) & some antidotes or antibiotics after diagnostic results.

What should be the diet plan during  food poisoning?

Until the symptoms resolve, you should be on carbohydrates, electrolytes rich semisolid food. You can also add small amount of boiled non spicy protein rich food. Avoid taking irritating substances like tea, coffee, spicy or oily food.

Food list that you can take  :-

  • ·       Rice
  • ·       Oats
  • ·       Chicken Soup
  • ·       Boiled vegetable
  • ·       Diluted fruit juice
  • ·       ORS
  • ·       Mineral water

     What should you avoid eating?

  • ·       Spicy food
  • ·       Dairy product
  • ·       Highly fatty food
  • ·       Irritating food (Coffee, Tea)
  • ·        Raw vegetables
  •       Prevention of Food poisoning
  • ·       Buy meat and seafood items only from hygienic outlets.
  • ·       Buy only pasteurised milk or cheese.
  • ·       Do not buy eggs which are cracked or leaking.
  • ·       Take groceries directly to the house and store them in the refrigerator.
  • ·       Hot food should be eaten immediately, or kept hot (> 60°C),or       refrigerated.
  • ·       Do not store eggs in the egg-section of the door (provided in most refrigerators), since adequate cooling does not occur.
  • ·       Never leave cut vegetables/meat in the open. Refrigerate them, or cook them.
  • Cook meat and seafood thoroughly before eating. Never consume undercooked oysters, clams, mussels, sushi, or snails.
  • ·       Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Never eat runny yolk.
  • ·       Avoid consuming uncooked animal-derived dishes (sushi, raw oysters, Hollandaise sauce, eggnog, mayonnaise, etc.).
  • ·       Drink only boiled or bottled water.
  • ·       Do not eat raw vegetables and salads.
  • ·       Do not buy food items from roadside vendors.

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