Don’t let foodborne illness spoil your fun in the sun!

barbecue friends

Are you following the summer food safety basics?

Now that we are finally enjoying some warmer weather, many of us will be heading out to enjoy picnics, barbecues, and outdoor gatherings, but the warmer temperatures also bring a higher risk of food poisoning. Headlines about foodborne illness outbreaks traced to a specific restaurant or food tend to grab our attention, but many cases of food poisoning are simply caused by food that’s been left out at room temperature for too long.

The UK has an estimated 1,000,000 cases of food poisoning every year. The risk of getting food poisoning from campylobacter, listeria, salmonella and E. coli rises over the summer months. How quickly food poisoning takes hold depends on the type of infection. Some infections can take a few hours, while others can take a few days or weeks to incubate in your system before becoming toxic.

Let’s look at the ways that can help ensure you are handling and storing your food correctly so that you don’t become unwell when enjoying eating outdoors this summer.

Tips to avoid food poisoning

  • Temperature control – essential to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, make sure you refrigerate foods promptly. Perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours, or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 32°C. Make sure you refrigerate or freeze leftovers immediately. Be sure to check temperatures using a food thermometer to ensure that your refrigerator is set at or below 4°C and your freezer is set at or below -18°C. During hot weather spells, it’s worth considering buying any hot and cold food items at the end of your shopping trip. You could also use coolers when transporting food, such as insulated coolers with ice packs. Keep raw meats in a separate cooler from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Practise good hygiene – maintaining cleanliness is key to preventing the spread of bacteria. Ensure you wash your hands frequently, always with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before handling food, after using the toilet, and after touching raw meat. Clean surfaces and utensils; disinfect cutting boards, knives, and countertops before and after preparing food. Use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods. Keep food covered to protect it from insects and airborne contaminants. Make sure you wash produce under running water including fruits, vegetables and salads before use to remove pesticides, dirt and bacteria.
  • Cook food thoroughly – proper cooking kills harmful bacteria. Using a food thermometer can be useful. Ensure meats are cooked to the right internal temperature. For example, poultry should reach 74°C, minced meats 71°C, and steaks at least 63°C with a resting time of three minutes. Avoid ‘partial cooking’, for example, don’t partially cook meat to finish later on the BBQ. Bacteria can thrive in partially cooked food; instead, cook it thoroughly in one go.
  • Be cautious with raw foods – some foods are more prone to contamination than others. For example, if you’re preparing sushi or other dishes with raw fish, ensure it’s from a reputable source and handled correctly to avoid parasites and bacteria. Watch out for cross-contamination of raw foods, using separate plates for raw and cooked meats.
  • Take extra care with buffet food – buffet-style meals can be a breeding ground for bacteria if not managed properly. Try to put out small portions that are frequently replenished. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use slow cookers or warming trays to keep hot foods above 60°C. Use ice or refrigerated dishes to keep cold foods below 4°C.
  • Stay hydrated safely – in hot weather, proper hydration is crucial but ensure your water source is safe. When travelling, avoid tap water and opt for bottled water.

How to manage a bout of food poisoning

If you do happen to get food poisoning, then make sure that you have a pot of our Live Bacteria capsules and a pot of our activated Charcoal capsules in the cupboard at the ready. The Live Bacteria probiotic capsules help to crowd out any harmful bacteria, rebalancing the gut and helping to prevent post-infectious IBS from occurring, which can be common after having food poisoning. Food poisoning is also a root cause of SIBO, but again the probiotics can help minimise this. Charcoal is great for absorbing toxins associated with food poisoning and reducing diarrhoea.

If you have developed food poisoning with diarrhoea, begin taking our activated Charcoal capsules as soon as you can, three capsules half an hour before food and three capsules half an hour after food until symptoms subside. If symptoms last for more than three days, see your pharmacist or GP as you may need some re-hydration sachets too.

If you have any questions about a gut and digestive health issue or would like to know more about a tailored supplement protocol, please get in touch.