It’s not uncommon for kids to get tummy aches. With the amount of dirt and bacteria they come in contact with on a daily basis — not to mention how often they stick their little fingers in their mouths without thinking twice — it’s a reality all parents have to deal with. But the tummy aches that come with food poisoning are a whole other ballgame. Needless to say it’s important for parents to be aware of the causes of food poisoning.
“Food poisoning” is a non-medical term that means bacteria entered your system through a food you ate and made you sick. This can have a sickly affect on your young ones. It can last several days, meaning missing school and activities too.
Some foods are at higher risk of being infected with germs that cause food poisoning. This include meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. However that doesn’t mean fruits, vegetables, and other raw foods can’t also become contaminated.
Throughout various points of the food handling process (transportation, preparation, storage), foods and liquids can come into contact with infectious microorganisms. The main ways this can occur are:
- Water used in the farming of food can become infected by feces (poop) of animals or humans
- During processing and shipping meat or poultry can be contaminated by bacteria and harmful microorganisms
- Food handlers (chefs, cooks, yourself) can unknowingly infect foods by using unclean utensils or cutting boards and not properly washing their hands when preparing food
- When stored too long or at the wrong temperature foods can also become infected with bacteria
When to call the doctor
If you notice any of the symptoms below, be sure to visit the GP:
- a fever higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- vomiting for more than three days
- severe headaches or abdominal pain
- blood in the stool or vomit
- a swollen, hard belly
Your toddler may also show signs of dehydration, excessive sleepiness or agitation or extreme thirst which warrants a doctor visit.
Given the many sources of food poisoning it’s key to recognize the importance of good hygiene and food safety. As a parent you can eliminate some of the potential of food poisoning by buying from trusted sources, preparing foods properly at home, and knowing how to handle foods at different stages of the cooking process.