Fear of Food Poisoning:: 5 Ways to Avoid

The fear of food poisoning is a very real and valid concern for many people. It can be a debilitating fear that prevents people from enjoying meals and can cause a great deal of anxiety. There are many ways to prevent food poisoning, and it is important to be informed about the risks.

According to WHO, Children under 5 years of age carry 40% of the foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.

Source: World Health Organization

No one wants to get food poisoning, but unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans gets sick from food poisoning each year. 

There are many different types of food poisoning, but they all have one thing in common: they’re caused by consuming contaminated food or water. Contamination can occur at any point during the food’s journey from farm to table, but it’s most often the result of improper food handling or preparation.

Many people are afraid of getting sick from food, and it’s a valid fear. Food poisoning can be very unpleasant, and in some cases, it can even be deadly.

There are a few things you can do to ease your fear of food poisoning. First, educate yourself about the risks of food poisoning and how to avoid it. Second, make sure you’re cooking your food properly and using clean utensils. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re buying food from a restaurant or grocery store.

Fear of Food Poisoning

What is Food Poisoning?

The fear of food poisoning is one of the most common phobias in the world. Food poisoning is a general term that refers to any illness that is caused by eating contaminated food. Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and fever.

some experts believe that food poisoning is more common in the summer months due to the warmer temperatures. One reason is that warmer temperatures provide a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

This can cause food to spoil more quickly and increase the risk of bacteria growth. It is important to take precautions when handling and storing food, no matter what time of year it is.

Superimposed on this general rising trend is a well-established tendency for the number of cases of food poisoning to rise during the summer when warm weather favours the multiplication of pathogenic micro-organisms. 1

Source: Springer

Types of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a common illness that can happen to anyone. However, the fear of food poisoning is a serious psychological issue people have been suffering from.

Food poisoning is caused by eating food that is contaminated with a bacterium, virus, or parasite. There are many different types of food poisoning, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe. 

Before jumping to the types of food poisoning, let’s have a look at its different categories. There are 5 categories of Food poisoning: 

  • Bacterial Food Poisoning: Bacterial food poisoning is a type of foodborne illness that is caused by consuming food or water that has been contaminated with bacteria. Symptoms of bacterial food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps. If left untreated, bacterial food poisoning can lead to dehydration and even death. Treatment for bacterial food poisoning typically involves taking antibiotics and drinking plenty of fluids. Prevention of bacterial food poisoning is best accomplished by practising food safety and hygiene.
  • Viral Food Poisoning: Viral food poisoning is a type of food poisoning that is caused by a virus. The most common type of viral food poisoning is Norovirus, which is also known as the stomach flu. Other types of viruses that can cause food poisoning include rotaviruses, adenoviruses, and astroviruses. Most people with viral food poisoning recover within a few days, but some people may require hospitalization.
  • Chemical food Poisoning: Chemical food poisoning is a type of foodborne illness that is caused by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with chemicals. In severe cases, chemical food poisoning can lead to organ damage, coma, and even death. Treatment for chemical food poisoning typically involves supportive care and may require hospitalization.
  • Parasitic Food Poisoning: Parasitic food poisoning is a type of foodborne illness that is caused by consuming food or water that is contaminated with parasites. The most common type of parasitic food poisoning is caused by the protozoan parasite, Giardia lamblia. Other parasites that can cause food poisoning include Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cyclospora cayetanensis. Treatment for parasitic food poisoning is typically with antibiotics.
  • Mold Food Poisoning: Mold food poisoning is a type of food poisoning that is caused by the ingestion of moldy food. Mold is a type of fungi that can grow on food and release toxins that can cause illness in humans. 
    • Types of Mold food poisoning: There are four main types of mold food poisoning:
      • Stachybotrys chartarum: This is the most dangerous type of mold and can cause serious health problems. It is often found in damp, humid environments and can grow on food that has been stored in these conditions.
      • Aspergillus: This type of mold is commonly found in food and can cause respiratory problems.
      • Penicillium: This type of mold is found in food and can cause gastrointestinal problems.
      • Fusarium: This type of mold is found in food and can cause gastrointestinal and urinary tract problems.

There are many different types of food poisoning, and each one has different symptoms. The most common types are caused by bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These types of food poisoning can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever.

According to a report:

Symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea were reported in 271 incidents, with 198 cases involving both symptoms, 66 cases involving vomiting only, and 7 cases involving diarrhoea only. Nausea, stomach cramps, and abdominal pain were also common complaints. Collapse, prostration, or fainting featured in 10 incidents, fever in 2, and dizziness in 1. Among them, somewhere around 49 cases required hospitalization since the side effects were serious. 2

Source: Cambridge University Press
Fear of Food Poisoning

Other less common types of food poisoning are caused by viruses, such as the norovirus, and toxins found in poisonous mushrooms. Food poisoning can be very dangerous, especially for young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.

  • Salmonella – Salmonella is a facultative anaerobic bacterium and can grow in the presence or absence of oxygen. It is a chemoorganotroph, meaning it uses organic compounds as a source of energy and carbon. Salmonella can be found in the environment, in food, and in the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans. 
  • Listeria – Babies, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems can become very ill. 
  • Staphylococcus – This type of food poisoning is often caused by eating contaminated food that has not been properly cooked.
  • Clostridium botulinum – This is a rare but serious type of food poisoning that can be caused by eating contaminated food that has not been properly canned or preserved.

Botulism is an illness that gets progressively worse and can cause paralysis. It is caused by a neurotoxin called botulinum toxin. This toxin is very powerful and is considered to be the most potent biologic poison. 3

Source: ScienceDirect
  • Campylobacter – Campylobacter is a genus of bacteria that is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness in humans. The most common species that affects humans is Campylobacter jejuni, which is typically found in poultry.
  • E.coli 0157 – E. coli is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and humans. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can cause serious illness. The most dangerous strain of E. coli is O157:H7. This strain is typically found in undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated water.
  • Shigella – Shigella is a genus of bacteria that is responsible for causing shigellosis, which is an infection of the intestine. The bacteria are spread through contaminated food or water, or through contact with an infected person. Treatment involves antibiotics and rehydration.
  • Norovirus – Noroviruses are a group of related, single-stranded RNA viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis in humans. It is also known as the “stomach flu” or “food poisoning.” Norovirus is most commonly seen in the winter months, but it can occur year-round. The virus can cause dehydration, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Bacillus cereus – This type of food poisoning is often caused by eating contaminated rice or pasta.
  • Vibrio vulnificus – This is a rare but serious type of food poisoning that can be caused by eating contaminated seafood.

There are many other less common types of food poisoning as well: 

  • Ciguatera – This is a type of food poisoning that can be caused by eating certain types of fish that contain toxins. 

Ciguatera poisoning is a type of marine food poisoning that is caused by consuming ciguatoxin (CTX) – a toxin produced by the marine dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus. Ciguatera poisoning is the most commonly reported marine food poisoning, making it a serious public health concern. 4

Source: ScienceDirect
  • Scombroid – This is a type of food poisoning that can be caused by eating certain types of fish that contain high levels of histamine.

Scombroid food poisoning is caused by eating fish that has not been properly refrigerated and has been contaminated by bacteria. These bacteria convert the amino acid histidine into histamine and other similar substances. 5

Source: ScienceDirect
  • Shellfish poisoning – This is a type of food poisoning that can be caused by eating contaminated shellfish.

Related: Can I Eat Salmon Everyday:: A Guide on Salmon

How Food Poisoning Occurs

 It starts with a few bacteria, which then multiply and grow in the food. The bacteria can be killed by cooking the food properly, but the spores can survive cooking and grow in the food. When you eat the food, the spores can make you sick. The majority of cases of food poisoning are caused by foods that were poorly handled in the kitchen.

Fear of Food Poisoning

 The fear of food poisoning can be triggered by a variety of factors, including bad experiences with food, media coverage of foodborne illness outbreaks, and even hearing others talk about their own experiences with food poisoning.

There are many ways in which food poisoning can occur and we need to educate ourselves in order to avoid the fear of food poisoning. One of the most common is when food is left out for too long and bacteria starts to grow. Another way is when there is not enough refrigeration to keep the food cold.

Also, when there is cross-contamination of food from raw meat to cooked food, for example. The meats will become contaminated and start to grow bacteria. If foods are not stored properly, then they can also start to grow bacteria.

An investigation conducted by the Stockholm Board of Health found that Aerobic Sporeformers were the key reason for food poisoning.

The foods most often involved in B. cereus poisoning were boiled beef or pork, sausage, and meatballs. Meat and meat products were reported to be the major vehicles of foodborne B. cereus poisoning. 6

Source: Journal of Food Protection

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last

The duration of food poisoning depends on the type of food consumed and the person’s individual response. Some people may experience only mild symptoms that last a few hours, while others may have more severe symptoms that last several days.

The most important thing to do if you think you have food poisoning is to drink plenty of fluids and rest. Sometimes the fear of food poisoning makes the condition last longer than usual. If your symptoms are severe or lasts more than a few days, you should see a doctor.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

 Symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to severe. Symptoms can include stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever. Food poisoning is caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. 

The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. Other symptoms can include:

  1. Nausea
  2. Abdominal pain
  3. Fever
  4. Chills
  5. Body aches
  6. Weakness
  7. Dehydration

What to Eat and Drink While Having Food Poisoning

If you have food poisoning, you may be wondering what you can eat and drink. You don’t need to have the fear of food poisoning rather the good news is that there are some things that can help ease your symptoms and help you recover. 

  1. Water: This is the most important thing to drink when you have food poisoning. It will help to flush the toxins out of your system.
  2. Clear liquids: This includes things like chicken broth, clear sodas, and sports drinks. They will help to keep you hydrated and replace electrolytes. 
  3. Bland foods: Eating bland foods like crackers, toast, and plain rice can help to settle your stomach. 
  4. Bananas: Bananas are a good source of potassium, which can be lost through vomiting and diarrhoea. 
  5. Ginger: Ginger can help to soothe an upset stomach and ease nausea. 
  6. Peppermint: Peppermint has an anti-inflammatory effect that can help with stomach cramps. 
  7. Chamomile: Chamomile is a calming herb that can help to ease nausea and vomiting.
  8. Probiotics: Probiotics can help to restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut. 
  9. Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal can help to absorb toxins in your system. 
  10. Rest: Getting plenty of rest is important when you have food poisoning.
Fear of Food Poisoning

What to Avoid

The fear of food poisoning can sometimes be worse than the actual thing. To avoid getting sick, it’s important to be aware of the types of food that are most likely to cause food poisoning. Here are five of the most common offenders: 

  • Raw meat and poultry: Raw meat and poultry are some of the most common sources of food poisoning. They can be contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. To avoid getting sick, it’s important to always cook meat and poultry thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to make sure that they reach the proper internal temperature. 

Poultry and poultry products accounted for 22% of the incidents, most of these were attributed to cold cooked chicken and in nine incidents turkey was the vehicle of intoxication. 7

Source: Cambridge University Press
  • Raw eggs: Raw eggs can also be contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella. To avoid getting sick, it’s important to only consume eggs that have been cooked thoroughly. 
  • Raw milk: Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. To avoid getting sick, it’s important to only drink milk that has been pasteurized. 
  • Shellfish: Shellfish can contain harmful bacteria and viruses. To avoid getting sick, it’s important to only consume shellfish that has been cooked thoroughly. 

The main food groups responsible for food poisoning incidents were fish and shellfish, milk and milk products, and eggs, accounting for 7%, 8%, and 3-5% of cases respectively. The most common type of shellfish implicated was prawns, responsible for 5% of cases. Other implicated dishes included trifles and vanilla slices. Ice cream and raw milk were responsible for one outbreak each. In one case, pasteurized milk became contaminated after the carton was opened. 8

Source: Cambridge University Press
  • Sprouts: Sprout is a type of food poisoning that is caused by the bacteria Bacillus cereus. This bacteria is found in soil and can contaminate food.

If you’re ever in doubt about whether a food is safe to eat, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

Fear of Food Poisoning

Who are at Risk of Food Poisoning

The fear of food poisoning is a serious and sometimes life-threatening illness. It is important to know who is at risk so you can take steps to protect yourself and your family. Anyone can get food poisoning, but some people are at greater risk.

This includes pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women are at an increased risk for food poisoning because their immune systems are suppressed. This means that they are more likely to get sick from the bacteria and viruses that cause food poisoning.

Young children are also at an increased risk for food poisoning. This is because their immune systems are not fully developed and they are more likely to put things in their mouths.

The elderly are at an increased risk for food poisoning because their immune systems are not as strong as they once were. This means that they are more likely to get sick from the bacteria and viruses that cause food poisoning.

People with weakened immune systems also have risks of food poisoning. This includes people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes. People who are taking certain medications, such as steroids, are prone to food poisoning.

US$110 billion is lost each year in productivity and medical expenses resulting from unsafe food in low- and middle-income countries.

Source: World Health Organization

Food Poisoning vs Stomach Flu

There are many similarities between food poisoning and stomach flu, but there are also some important differences.

  1. Both conditions can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, and can be extremely unpleasant.
  2. Stomach flu is caused by a virus, while food poisoning is usually caused by bacteria.
  3. The symptoms of food poisoning can come on suddenly and can last for days. The symptoms of the stomach flu tend to be more gradual, and usually only last for a day or two.
  4. Both conditions can be serious, but food poisoning is more likely to cause severe dehydration, and can even be fatal in some cases.
  5. Treatment for food poisoning usually involves taking antibiotics, while the stomach flu will usually just need to run its course.
  6. In both cases, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

If you think you may have either food poisoning or stomach flu, it’s important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a serious and sometimes deadly illness that can be caused by eating contaminated food. It is important to take steps to prevent food poisoning, especially if you are preparing food for others. Here are some ways to help prevent food poisoning:

  • Always Wash Hands

 When you eat food, it’s important to wash your hands before you proceed to the next step. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria and food poisoning. It’s not just when you’re preparing food that you should wash your hands, but also after you’ve used the restroom and after you’ve handled raw meat. or fish.

Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers.

Source: World Health Organization
  • Keep Raw Meat Separate On the Griddle

 It’s important to keep raw meat separate from cooked or ready to eat meat on the griddle. This will help to prevent food poisoning from occurring. Raw meat can carry bacteria that can’t be killed by cooking and it can contaminate other foods.

  •  Use the Right Foods

 It’s essential to use the right foods to prevent food poisoning. If you’re going to be eating raw meat, make sure to cook it thoroughly. Raw eggs and undercooked meats can be sources of Salmonella. If you’re going to be eating raw fruits and vegetables, make sure they are washed thoroughly.

  • Be Cautious

 The best way to prevent food poisoning is to be careful. You should always wash your hands before and after preparing food. You should also wash all the surfaces that you touch with a disinfectant after you prepare food. And don’t forget to keep your food at the right temperature and never leave it out for more than two hours.

  • Touring The Kitchen

 “Touring the Kitchen” is a great way to prevent food poisoning. The best way to do this is to wash your hands with soap and water before and after you prepare food. You should also wash your hands and clean the kitchen counters and other surfaces that have been in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.

 It’s important to keep your kitchen clean and sanitized to avoid food poisoning. Here are some tips to help you do that.

    1. Clean your kitchen surfaces with a disinfectant.
    2. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after cooking.
    3. Wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water before preparation.
    4. Cook foods to a safe temperature.
    5. Refrigerate food promptly.
  • Avoid cross-contamination: Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from other food. This will help prevent bacteria from spreading.
  • Keep food clean: Keep food preparation areas clean, and wash dishes and utensils thoroughly.
  • Prevent The Spreading of Germs: In order to prevent the spreading of germs, it is important to wash your hands often. Germs are passed from person to person and surface to surface. Before you eat, wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands after you use the washroom.

If you suffer from the fear of food poisoning, there are treatment options available that can help you overcome your fear and enjoy food again.

FAQ

What causes cibophobia?

Some possible causes of cibophobia (the fear of food) could include a previous bad experience with food, a fear of choking or vomiting, or a general anxiety about eating in public. If you are experiencing cibophobia, it is important to talk to a mental health professional to explore the root cause of your fear and develop a treatment plan to help you manage your anxiety.

What is food Neophobia?

Neophobia is the fear of new foods. It is a common problem among young children, who may be hesitant to try new foods because they are unfamiliar with them. Neophobia can also be seen in adults, who may be reluctant to try new foods because they are afraid of them.

Can food poisoning give you anxiety?

it is possible that food poisoning could trigger anxiety in some people. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing anxiety after food poisoning, it is best to consult with a medical professional to rule out any other potential causes.

Why do I have a fear of being poisoned?

Everyone experiences fear differently. Some people may have a fear of being poisoned because they have experienced or witnessed someone else being poisoned. Others may have a fear of being poisoned because they have read about it happening to someone else. Some people may even have a fear of being poisoned because they watched a movie or TV show where someone was poisoned.

Should I worry about food poisoning?

No, you don’t need to worry about food poisoning if you’re healthy and have a strong immune system. However, if you’re pregnant, have a chronic illness, or are taking medication that suppresses your immune system, you should be more cautious about food poisoning.

Is food poisoning painful?

The pain associated with food poisoning can vary depending on the person and the severity of the poisoning. Some people may experience mild discomfort while others may have severe pain that requires hospitalization.

Do you always vomit with food poisoning?

No, not always. Sometimes people with food poisoning will have vomiting as one of their symptoms, but not everyone will experience this. 

What does food poisoning feel like when it starts?

The symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the type of food poisoning you have. However, the most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually start within 1-2 hours after eating contaminated food. Other less common symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, and headache.

Does food poisoning go away without treatment?

In most cases, it goes away without treatment. If you are in a severe case, you should see a doctor right away.

Can food poisoning be fatal?

Yes, food poisoning can be fatal. If you experience severe vomiting and diarrhoea, you can become dehydrated, and if your body cannot replenish the fluids you are losing, you can go into shock. In extreme cases, food poisoning can lead to organ failure and death.

What are the five ways to avoid the fear of food poisoning?

The five ways to avoid fear of food poisoning are to practice food safety, to know the symptoms of food poisoning, to know how long food poisoning lasts, to know how to prevent food poisoning, and to know the treatment options for food poisoning.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

The symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and fever.

How long does food poisoning last?

Food poisoning usually lasts for 1 to 7 days.

How do I know if I have food poisoning?

You can know if you have the symptoms of food poisoning and if you have eaten contaminated food.

What should I do if I think I have food poisoning?

If you think you have food poisoning, you should see a doctor.

What are the most common causes of food poisoning?

The most common causes of food poisoning are bacteria, viruses, and toxins.

How can I prevent food poisoning?

You can prevent food poisoning by practising food safety, cooking food properly, and avoiding contaminated food.

What are the treatment options for food poisoning?

The treatment options for food poisoning include rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medication.

What are the complications of food poisoning?

The complications of food poisoning include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and blood poisoning.

When should I see a doctor for food poisoning?

You should see a doctor for food poisoning if you have the symptoms of food poisoning and if you have eaten contaminated food.

Footnotes

  1. Bentham, G., Langford, I. Environmental temperatures and the incidence of food poisoning in England and Wales. Int J Biometeorol 45, 22–26 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004840000083
  2. Epidemiology & Infection , Volume 110 , Issue 3 , June 1993 , pp. 519 – 531. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268800050949
  3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emc.2007.02.014
  4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emc.2007.02.014
  5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emc.2007.02.014
  6. Journal of Milk and Food Technology (1972) 35 (4): 213–227. https://doi.org/10.4315/0022-2747-35.4.213
  7. Epidemiology & Infection , Volume 110 , Issue 3 , June 1993 , pp. 519 – 531. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268800050949
  8. Epidemiology & Infection , Volume 110 , Issue 3 , June 1993 , pp. 519 – 531. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268800050949

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