Dealing With Food Poisoning
Q. How long does it take for food poisoning to occur after eating something, and can you cook the bad stuff out of everything if you cook it on high enough heat?
Answer to this Yes & NO. Read on…….
Answer: Food Poisoning is mainly TWO kinds:
A. MICROBIOLOGICAL has three sub categories (a) Contamination during manufacturing or preparation and (b) Under processing (Equipment malfunction) & (c) Post Process Contamination (the processed food in the container-can, carton, pouch, etc) get contaminated/infected after it is properly processed to make it safe for storage and consumption much, much later..
(a) Contamination: This is mainly due to Unsanitary practices, i.e., not washing the prep area/utensils (knives, cutting boards, etc), properly, fruits and vegetables coming from the field, cross-contamination, i.e., same area used to prepare meats such as poultry, fish, pork, beef and other meats and fresh vegetables served as salads and garnishes prepared on the same area using same knives and other utensils. Getting sick from fruits and vegetables and contaminated foods depends on the contaminant (E.Coli, Fast Food places and other Food Establishments are most common for this kind of food poisoning. Pathogenic type, Salmonella, (certain Viruses, etc) that are very VIRULENT, i.e. their MID (Minimum Infection Dose) is very small. For Children, infants and older adults it could be fatal (because of the smaller body mass and/or debilitated immune system).
How quickly you get SICK after eating this type of contaminated food depends on ‘how much contaminated food was eaten’. These pathogens have to multiply in your system and trigger response by your defenses(fever, vomiting, head ach, etc).
(b) Under processing (Equipment malfunction): Canned Foods get microbiological (Bacteria, Yeast, Mold, Virus, etc.) sterilization processing. Botulinum Toxin is produced by surviving spores of Clostridium Botulinum bacteria.
This is one of the deadliest of BACTERIAL toxins. However, this toxin is easily destroyed by cooking (boiling the canned food). YES: This is the TOXIN that is destroyed by cooking the contaminated food.
(c) Another type of Food Poisoning is by eating the food in which toxin is already produced by the bacterial growth. The bacteria are destroyed by their own toxin (e.g.: endotoxin by Staphylococcus Aureus).
NO: This toxin CAN NOT be destroyed by COOKING any length of time or even pressure cooking.
It is very difficult to detect this problem by looks of the food-flavor, color, smell, etc. The common foods are cooked: meats, fish, vegetables, etc., those that are NOT acidic (pH above 5.0) and stored un-hygienically. At Room temperature these bacteria can grow overnight and produce toxin. In refrigerator they still can grow, but slower. When hot food is put in a container and put in refrigerator while it is still hot they grow. Best thing to do is let the food cool before transferring in to a clean container for storing in refrigerator. As a rule of thumb any food stored in refrigerator for more than 3 days should be discarded.
Typical symptoms after eating these types of food are stomach-cramps, headache, some times vomiting and diarrhea.
How soon you get sick: couple of hours, depending on how much you ate!!!
B. Chemical Food Poisoning: There are several sources starting from the field: insecticides, disinfectants in washing water, accidental contamination, etc. These are rare in US produced foods. Not so in some imports (Example: melamine in infant formulas from China!!!).