Gone are the days when going to corporate and civil functions meant enjoying a healthy meal after the inspirational and developmental speeches.
With the increasing threat of food poisoning, home cooking seems to be getting cheaper than pajeroing (read queuing) for ceremony food, which comes with the financial and psychological costs of fixing one’s body from food poisoning.
When I read a story that came out in The New Times a few days ago Kigali residents who turned up for the Kigali City Council (KCC) meeting that took place at the Kigali Independent University (ULK) and ended up suffering from food poisoning, I could not but wonder about food poisoning in general.
The meeting which had been called to present KCC’s achievements in 2009 also attracted several senior government officials and local residents from various places.
After a seemingly delicious meal 350 out of the 3000 people who attended the function ended up suffering from food poisoning where 6 were admitted in hospital.
The official explanation got from KCC was that the food which was served at the function had been prepared a day before, and it had gone bad.
They went ahead to explain that they are sure Odette Sumwiza the proprietor of Agano Restaurant which prepared the meals had no intentions of harming the people.
In her statement to police Sumwiza said they cooked the food a day before because the people attending the function were very many. I suppose this doesn’t justify serving people with contaminated food.
Food poisoning is a common, usually mild, but sometimes deadly illness. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea that occur suddenly (within 48 hours) after consuming a contaminated food or drink.
Depending on the contaminant, fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration, and nervous system damage may follow. These symptoms may affect one person or a group of people who ate the same thing.
It is estimated that in the United States, food poisoning causes about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths each year. And it is one of the most common bacterial forms of infection.
Gerald Ruzindana a medical practioner with speciality in stomach infections said Food poisoning tends to occur at picnics, school cafeterias, and large social functions and that In these cases, food may be left out of the refrigerator too long or food preparation techniques may not be clean.
Food poisoning often occurs from eating undercooked meats, dairy products, or food containing mayonnaise (like coleslaw or potato salad) that have sat out of the refrigerator too long.
Food poisoning can be caused by Bacillus cereus, botulism, fish poisoning, mushroom poisoning among others
Botulism is a very serious form of food poisoning that can be fatal.
It can come from improper home canning.
He further says that infants and elderly people have the greatest risk for food poisoning, and the other groups are those with serious medical conditions, such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Those with a weakened immune system, pregnant and breastfeeding women have to be especially careful to avoid food poisoning.
If a person has food poisoning, with proper treatment he or she will recover within a couple of days. The first step should be trying to avoid dehydration. One is also advised to eat solid foods.
It is advised to contact medical attention when Diarrhoea lasts for more than 2-3 days, if there is blood in your stool and if you have a fever over 101 F.
Food poisoning is prevented by the basic hygiene precautions of washing hands clean, dishes and other utensils, refrigerating all the food a person will not be eating, not eating expired foods or packaged foods with a broken seal and others.
Negligence on how people prepare, handle and preserve their foods has been the outstanding cause of food poisoning outbreaks, extra caution needs to be taken in this respect to prevent these cases.