Hyderabad: Unhygienic handling during transportation, non-maintenance of the cold storage, growing use of polluted water, and improper storage have all been found to be the leading reasons behind the increasing number of fruit- and vegetable-induced food poisoning which has been observed lately.
Food-borne illnesses present a range of symptoms including stomach cramps, diarrhoea, recurrent diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite. Harmful germs such as salmonella, E.coli, and listeria have been identified as the most common causative factors in such cases.
Dr Vijay Kumar C. Bada, senior consultant gastroenterologist, explained, “We have been observing a consistent increase in the number of cases of food poisoning from fruits, vegetables, and consumption of raw sprouts. Contamination can occur at any stage between the farm and the table. There is also a likelihood of cross-contamination in the kitchen, so it's important to handle ingredients well. In addition to the above, we’ve noted a significant number of patients reporting severe stomach aches and vomiting after consuming raw sprouts. This is mainly because sprouts only germinate at warmer temperatures, which is ideal for bacterial growth. Especially pregnant women and those with weak immune systems must avoid sprouts."
Experts claim that such cases are observed more during summers and winters, which make it easier to identify them as cases of food poisoning during monsoons are mostly attributed to water contamination.
Raw milk and raw vegetables juices have also been found to carry harmful germs and therefore, it is advisable to consume only boiled/cooked food. Boiling, cooking helps kill germs, thereby making food safe for consumption. Experts further claim that pasteurised milk carries the same amount of nutrition as raw milk supposedly does. More children and middle-aged individuals have reported suffering from food poisoning aggravated by the consumption of raw vegetables and raw milk.
While the groups most vulnerable to fruit- and vegetable-induced illnesses include pregnant women, senior citizens, and those suffering from chronic illnesses, and it has been noted that such patients are counselled on a timely basis and are quite particular about the food they consume, doctors believe that it is just as critical for middle-aged working individuals to opt for hygienic foods.
Dr B. Prabhakar, consultant medical gastroenterologist at Apollo Hospitals, said, “Every episode of food poisoning causes damage to the lining of the intestines and the stomach. The body, however, replenishes the lining, thereby minimising the damage. Cases of recurrent diarrhea or invasive diarrhea, on the other hand, can cause significant damage to the lining of the stomach and further complications. This makes it vital for patients to complete the course of medication that they are prescribed."