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Food poisoning: can you really avoid it?

03 Dec 2018

Preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Health (MOH) have not established a definitive link among the three recent cases of food poisoning. However, the number of such incidences in Singapore has jumped by 40 per cent on a year-on-year basis from January to October this year, compared to the corresponding period last year.

Severe food poisoning could be caused by bacteria transferred from a food handler’s hands or from vegetables that were not washed thoroughly enough. Other possible factors include lapses in food safety, lack of knowledge in food hygiene practices, or cross contamination.

Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, Infectious Diseases Programme Leader, said that it is very difficult to detect contaminated food. In some cases, contamination occurs at a source in the food chain, even before reaching food establishments.

“Obviously not continuing to eat food that tastes 'off', or consuming food that is past the expiry date or time, will help. When in doubt, toss away the food,” he said.

The elderly or the very young, as well as those with compromised immune systems, may fare worse when hit by either viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning, he added.

“For those who are afflicted by the stomach flu or food poisoning, the key is to ensure adequate fluid intake, which can include water, soup, as well as other oral rehydration solutions,” he said.

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