A kid’s primer on food poisoning
Sometimes food can make you feel sick. Usually it’s those leftovers you wolfed down because you were so hungry. Chances are, if you feel sick after eating them, they were probably old.
The reason old food makes you feel sick is that it has bacteria on it. Gross, I know, but hang with me for a minute. Bacteria loves to grow on old food. Loves it like, I’ll just take a guess, like you love ice cream. Now imagine, there’s nobody around and there’s a bowl of ice cream in front of you. I mean, it might as well be a crime to waste a perfectly good bowl of ice cream so obviously the only sensible thing to do is eat it. That’s exactly how bacteria feel. They can’t resist the urge to grow on old food, like you couldn’t resist eating the ice cream. Those bacteria that grew on the old food you ate are what made you feel sick.
Maybe it was a stomach ache, maybe you threw up, maybe you even had diarrhea. When you have one or more of these things from eating old or bad food, its called food poisoning. Nobody actually put poison in you food, it was just that bad bacteria grew on it. Then the bacteria got inside you body form the food you ate and made you feel sick.
How to avoid food poisoning you may ask? Lets find out.
Mild cases of food poisoning are common because bacteria is all around us. People don’t usually go to the hospital for food poisoning because it’s just something that happens sometimes. The symptoms of food poisoing almost always go away on their own. Though you probably don’t need to see a doctor for food poisoning, it’s always a good idea to tell an adult when you don’t feel well.
Firstly, I should point out that not all bacteria are bad. There are plenty of good bacteria in our bodies which we need to survive. These good bacteria help protect our skin and immune system, as well as work to keep germs and bad bacteria out of our bodies.
Now, I know the good and bad bacteria thing is confusing. I was confused the first time I heard abot it too, but let me try to explain. Which kinds of bacteria are to blame for feeling sick? Well, food that comes from animals, raw foods, and unwashed vegetables can all possibly have germs that cause food poisoning. The most common source of food poisoning is from meat, poultry (like chicken), eggs, milk, and shellfish. The most common kinds of bacteria are:
Unfortunately, yes, most bacteria names are that hard to pronounce. Scientists really like their big words, but thanks to them we know how to get around those tricky little bad bacteria.
Here are some steps to help you avoid food poisoning:
–Always wash your hands before eating or preparing foods. Washing your hands gets the bacteria off so that you don’t get them on the food you or others will be eating.
–Check expiration dates on all foods. Sometimes instead of “expires:” it will say “sell by:” or “best if used by:”. Don’t eat anything that has expired because it will have bad bacteria all over it!
–Make sure the food you are eating or serving has been properly cooked. For example if you notice the chicken you are going to eat is raw or still pink inside, don’t eat it just yet. Show an adult and see if they think it’s okay to eat.
–Smell food before you eat it. If it smells wierd, again, ask an adult before eating it. (And no please don’t use the excuse of “this smells funny” to get out of eating your vegetables at dinner).
–If you are going to eat leftovers, always heat them up. The heat kills the bacteria that may have grown on the food while it was in the refrigerator.
–Always cover and refrigerate food right away. Bacteria has a tougher time growing in cold temperatures so food will stay better longer than if you just left it on the counter.
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Keith J. Stone also handles cases originating elsewhere in California and across the USA.