Soar in sickness caused by food toxins and bacteria

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ON THE RISE: Analytical results from the laboratories of hospitals in Valencia help give true picture of food poisoning cases. Photo credit: Shutterstock

FOOD poisoning cases in the Alicante region have risen by 200 per cent in three years.

Last year there were 312 cases and os, compared to 96 and 30 respectively in 2014, across the province.

Experts claim the main causes are poor hygiene in the kitchens of homes and limited knowledge of some consumers when it comes to cooking certain dishes.

So far, more than 250 different food poisoning agents have been described. Most are infections caused by bacteria, viruses and food parasites, while others are poisonings produced by toxins or chemical compounds. Eggs, fish, seafood, vegetables and chicken are the most frequently implicated foods. However, in 20 per cent of the cases it is not possible to find out the causative food.

According to data from the Organisation of Consumers and Users OCU, more than 50 per cent of poisonings have their origin in food prepared at home. The consumption of undercooked meats and fish increases the prevalence. Summer months are a particularly critical time because high temperatures favour the development of microorganisms.

The Alicante Ministry of Health confirmed that while food toxicities experience annual fluctuations, the upturn observed in recent years can also be attributed to the introduction in 2015 of Red MIVA (an information system that collects daily the analytical results from all the laboratories of the hospitals of the Valencian community).

This has allowed the identification and notification of small outbreaks that previously went unnoticed.

The most common infections are salmonella, botulism, listeriosis or E-coli bacteria. Most can cause gastrointestinal disorders, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, sometimes accompanied by fever and in certain cases can trigger serious illness. The effects depend to a large extent on the type of toxin and how it was absorbed, as well as the sensitivity of the victim.

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