Food poisoning may sound like a minor impediment to one’s health; many of us have had a mild case, or have a friend who suffered from it. It is a temporarily unpleasant state of being that sometimes means missed workdays, special occasions, or other appointments. The reality of food borne illness is much more dire than many of us would believe; harmful bacteria stemming from mistreated or mishandled food products can have lasting effects on our bodies. Although Queensland holds the title for highest rates of food poisoning in the country, with more Salmonella cases per capita than any other region, the threat of bacterial infection is just as serious in New South Wales. Food Safety NSW regulations have accordingly been established to stem the potential tide of food borne illness among Australians.
Food poisoning comes in many shapes and forms, but at the core is caused by consumption of food or drink contaminated with pathogenic bacteria or other toxic agents. Warm and moist environments foster bacterial growth and food poisoning occurs when these conditions result in the accumulation of a significantly large number of dangerous bacteria. One should be aware that life cannot be completely sanitised, and a bacterium does not have to be attached to pejorative connotation; for example the human immune system fights illness with “healthy” bacteria. However, dangerous bacteria including Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus and others, can have severely damaging effects on one’s health. Food poisoning can additionally be caused by viral agents, such as Norovirus and Rotavirus. Symptoms most commonly include nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and fever. However, food poisoning can have far more serious effects including reduced blood pressure and slowed heart rate, respiratory failure, paralysis and death. Most often than not, if an infection is caught early, treatment is relatively quick and effective for the patient. The best treatment however, is prevention.
Regulatory bodies take prevention of food borne illness in NSW seriously, both in a regional and national context. Part of this devotion to prevention lies in Food Safety NSW training and courses. Training employees and management on the proper procedures and precautions to take when handling food, particularly meat and dairy products, prevents expensive lawsuits as well as devastating human costs. For although deaths resulting from food poisoning are quite rare, those who are most susceptible are those who are most vulnerable to other illness and cannot risk a depressed immune system; these include children less than 5, pregnant women, individuals over age 70, and those with pre-existing compromised immunity. Food Safety NSW encompasses all practice associated with the proper treatment and handling of food products. This includes proper personal hygiene; making sure to wash ones hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap after using the toilet, smoking, blowing your nose, etc. Food Safety NSW courses also covers the storage and temperature requirements of meat, dairy and vegetable products, and how best to control and halt the accumulation of dangerous amounts of pathogens.
Food borne illness poses the most immediate danger to the most vulnerable segments of the population, and should thusly be prevented by any means necessary. Food safety NSW regulations have been put in place to decrease the likelihood of infection caused by mishandled food products. Part and parcel of these regulations is training of employees as to the proper way to handle food as well as basic personal hygiene and many other aspects to making sure the food Australians consume is healthy.