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Investigation of a Food Poisoning Incident Essay

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Updated: May 9th, 2022

Introduction

Normally, food poisoning incidences encompass symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and nausea. As a result, food handlers have a significant task in ensuring safe preparation and handling ways to avoid food poisoning for in terms of spreading pathogens, they are at greater public health risk. Infected food handlers, in particular, signify an exceptionally great risk for the spread of infection to consumers when bare contaminated hands encounter foods. This paper proposes a Departmental Policy Document in a bid to detail the accountability of the department in the investigation of a Salmonella food poisoning outbreak. As the Senior EHP at Downtown City Council, I prepared the document, included the choice of intervention policies available, and determined their effectiveness. The aforementioned food poisoning outbreak relates to a cold buffet supplied by a local firm. Successful management and investigation of food poisoning outbreaks rely on different agencies. Every officer with liability for services dealing with food should make sure that all staff members are conscious of the set rules coupled with educating and sensitizing people.

Background

Most food poisoning cases comprise symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and nausea. The aforementioned symptoms emerge in normal situations twenty-four to forty-eight hours following infection and stay for approximately one to two days. Food handlers directly handle or get food ready and thus have a significant task to ensure safe preparation and handling ways to avoid food poisoning (Nyachuba 2010). Infected food handlers, especially, signify an exceedingly great risk for the spread of pathogens to consumers when bare contaminated hands come to contact with ready foods. Since cooking does not cause the destruction of spores, when foods are kept below 63°C, there might be the germination of spores generating food poisoning bacteria. On the other hand, when food is re-contaminated at below 63°C, there is a good chance for food poisoning bacteria to multiply to adequate numbers to bring about illness.

Salmonella is a major cause of food poisoning. Salmonella can be present in eggs, unpasteurized milk, and meat, especially from poultry. Apart from salmonella, other four bacteria cause food poisoning and they include Campylobacter, E.coli, Listeria, and Clostridium perfringens (Nyachuba 2010). This paper discusses a Departmental Policy Document produced by the Downtown City Council in a bid to detail the responsibility of the department in the investigation of a Salmonella food poisoning outbreak. As the Senior EHP, I am required to prepare the document, including the choice of intervention policies available, and measure their effectiveness. The aforementioned outbreak is connected to a cold buffet supplied by a local firm. This firm of outside caterers provided cooked savory dishes, sandwiches, and puddings for fifty individuals at a christening.

From the menu, the local firm supplied at the christening, the most probable foods associated with the outbreak caused is sandwiches and puddings as they contain chicken meat and eggs. Inappropriately handled and improperly cooked poultry and eggs signify the foods that most often bring about Salmonella food poisoning. Chicken is a chief source of Salmonella bacteria that explains its existence in poultry products (Cox & Pavic 2010). Nevertheless, recognizing foods that might be contaminated with the bacteria is mainly hard, as infected chickens characteristically demonstrate no symptoms or signs. Because infected chickens do not possess identifying attributes, these chickens proceed to lay eggs or they are consumed as meat (Parry, Miles, Tridente, & Palmer 2004).

In the past, the common assumption was that Salmonella bacteria existed only in cracked eggs, thus permitting the bacteria to penetrate. Eventually, it emerged that since the eggshell contains small pores, un-cracked eggs that stayed for some time on a surface where Salmonella is present could as well turn out to be contaminated (Cox & Pavic 2010). In addition, it is clear that the bacteria may pass from an infected chicken into the egg prior to the formation of the shell around it. Even though food having Salmonella is properly cooked, any type of food can be contaminated in the course of preparation if situations and utensils for food preparation are not sanitary (Cox & Pavic 2010). This scenario is called cross-contamination. In this regard, it is apparent that any of the foods provided in the menu by the local firm could have carried the Salmonella bacteria as any foods may be contaminated by chance when they get into contact with contaminated surfaces.

Food poisoning due to salmonella denotes the most general cause of food-borne disease and it is called salmonellosis. Salmonellosis is a bacterial illness brought about by a range of kinds of Salmonella bacteria. The symptoms of this food-borne illness appear approximately one to two days following infection. Fever, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are some of the symptoms of salmonella food poisoning (Sandora, Shih & Goldmann 2008). The diarrhea is generally liquid and seldom includes blood or mucus. Diarrhea regularly stays for roughly four days. The infection regularly stops in roughly five to seven days. Severe complications are uncommon happening most often in persons with various medical diseases. Complications arise if the Salmonella bacteria get into the bloodstream. When it gets into the bloodstream, the Salmonella bacteria can penetrate any organ system all over the body, resulting in illness.

Document

A task that other agencies could carry out in the investigation

The key intention in the management and investigation of a food poisoning outbreak is protecting public health by discovering the cause of the food poisoning outbreak and executing required evaluations to prevent the continued spread of the infection. Successful management and investigation of food poisoning outbreaks are reliant on different agencies as listed here. For instance, good communication linking the Health Protection Agency, Local Authority, National Public Health Service and every interested party is of paramount importance. When it emerges to the Director of Public Protection (DPP), the Director of Microbiology Laboratory (DML), or the Consultant in Communicable Disease Control (CCDC) that a food poisoning outbreak may have occurred (when a huge number of people reports illness after food consumption), instant contact is made. All parties will together consider the details existing and verify whether an outbreak exists (Sandora, Shih & Goldmann 2008). Any of the parties may announce an outbreak when required.

The resolution to announce an outbreak and then set up an Outbreak Control Team (OCT) when need be could be made by the aforementioned three parties. The OCT group will usually be critical if some of the following typifies the food poisoning outbreak:-

  1. Instant and/or ongoing health hazard noteworthy to the local people
  2. Instances of serious illness
  3. Huge numbers of instances
  4. Participation of different local authorities

National Health Service (NHS) Trusts give health care and collaborate with every relevant agency for the investigation, avoidance, and control of food poisoning illnesses (Sandora, Shih & Goldmann 2008). In addition, the role of NHS includes providing every essential support to the outbreak control team in the occurrence of an outbreak. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) merges the functions of the district health authorities, Chemical Incident Support Unit (CISU), Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC), and other components of health protection. The HPA supplies knowledge and laboratory services with regard to microorganisms that are the cause of food poisoning outbreaks. Admittance to the Health Protection Agency and its services is given via the National Public Health Service Microbiology Laboratories (NPHSML).

Officers and staff of the Environmental Health Department

The basic objective of the Environmental Health Department (EHD) is to guard human life as well as health. If an outbreak the one that happened in the christening were to take place in Downtown, the officers and staff of the EHD should take up the following procedures among others.

  • Visit the premises and carry out a thorough inspection
  • Make sure that staff are completely conscious of all possible food hazards
  • Make sure that high standards of individual and environmental cleanliness are held to at every stage to guarantee food safety
  • Gratify existing legal obligations
  • Reduce the risk of client health complaints or additional action in opposition to the Trust.

All officers with liability for services that deal with food should make sure that all appropriate staff members are conscious of, and stick to, this Policy. During the purchase of foodstuff from suppliers, staff members have to be contented that premises are sanitary. In conditions where there is temperature abuse, the officers and staff of EHD must make sure that the foodstuff is not consumed if the directions on the wrapping do not affirm that it is harmless to do so (Humphrey 2004). When eggs are bought, they must be marked with a date for which to consume before. The officers and staff of EHD must ensure that all foods are bought or sold prior to the “sell-by date”. Additionally, they must ensure that all foods are consumed before their “use by” date. The officers and staff must uphold documentation of the food outlets giving meals from several external sources to guarantee traceability in case of a food poisoning outbreak.

The officers and staff should see to it that cold food kept in the fridge is stored in hygienic, clearly labeled, and sealed containers. In situations where the stored food is not fully consumed, the remaining must be thrown away at the end of each day. Proper food storage is essential to guarantee satisfactory provision all through the year. Failure to warrant suitable situations of humidity, temperature, and reliability of packaging could bring setbacks of unhealthy or spoiled food with at the very slightest causing of a substantial decrease in shelf life (Tostmann, Bousema & Oliver 2012).

Intervention strategies

Currently, it is not sufficient to take caution merely with cracked eggs; any food consumed by family members could be a means of infection. There is a variety of intervention strategies existing to the Officers of EHD and their efficiency in controlling food poisoning outbreaks as the one mentioned earlier (Miljkovic, Nganje & Onyango 2009). Some of these intervention strategies include the following.

  • Sensitizing people to practice thorough personal hygiene: will not only assist family members, but everyone consuming the food. It is important to note that Salmonella bacteria are exceedingly hardy (can endure even on surfaces) and that just a few are enough to bring severe sickness (Yamamoto & Voss 2008). Given that there is no sensible method of policing the cleanliness of food handlers, it is vital to confirm with local health departments with the aim of identifying any food dealer that may have been provided with admonitions. The rising trend of giving sanitation cards for display is as well a move in the right course.
  • The officers must teach people ways to evade cross-contamination. This element necessitates being very careful of the surfaces (particularly cutting boards) in addition to the utensils employed when preparing a meal and that have had contact with raw meat (Ray & Bhunia 2004). This aspect also signifies that utensils utilized to transport uncooked meat to the cooker must not be the similar ones that are later utilized to take out the meat (or any other food) from the cooker when it is ready for consumption.
  • Officers have the task of making sure that meat and poultry products like eggs are safe, healthy, and correctly labeled.
  • Officers are charged with guarding consumers against contaminated, unsafe, and deceitfully labeled food except in areas controlled by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a food safety mission falling within its scrutiny and outbreak response actions (Montville & Matthews 2008). Officers should ensure that food suppliers satisfy all the set obligations in a bid to guarantee food safety and prevent cases of food poisoning.

Conclusion

Conventionally, food poisoning incidences comprise symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and nausea. Food handlers thus have a significant task to ensure safe preparation and handling ways to avoid food poisoning as when it comes to spreading pathogens, they are at greater public health risk. Infected food handlers in particular signify an exceptionally great risk for the spread of infection to consumers when bare contaminated hands come to contact with foods. This policy document is an effective departmental policy in reducing and eradicating cases of food poisoning and ensuring food safety as it discusses the scope of intervention strategies in addition to their effectiveness in controlling food poisoning. Through sensitizing and educating people coupled with ensuring that rules set followed, officers in various health departments play a significant role in controlling food poisoning and guaranteeing food safety.

References

Cox, J & Pavic, 2010, ‘Advances in enteropathogen control in poultry production’, Journal of Applied Microbiology, vol. 108 no. 3, pp.745-755.

Humphrey, T 2004, ‘Science and society: Salmonella, stress responses, and food safety’, Nature Reviews Microbiology, vol. 2 no. 6, pp. 504-509.

Miljkovic, D, Nganje, W & Onyango, B 2009, ‘Offsetting behavior and the benefits of food safety regulation’, Journal of Food Safety, vol. 29 no. 1, pp. 49-58.

Montville, T & Matthews, K 2008, Food microbiology: An introduction, Amer Society for Microbiology, Washington.

Nyachuba, D, 2010, ‘Foodborne illness: Is it on the rise’, Nutrition Reviews, vol. 68 no. 5, pp. 257-269.

Parry, S, Miles, S, Tridente, A & Palmer, S 2004, ‘Differences in perception of risk between people who have and have not experienced Salmonella food poisoning’, Risk Analysis: An International Journal, vol. 24 no. 1, pp. 289-299.

Ray, B & Bhunia, 2004, Fundamental food microbiology, CRC Press LLC, Florida.

Sandora, T, Shih, M & Goldmann, D 2008, ‘Reducing absenteeism from gastrointestinal and respiratory illness in elementary school students: A randomized controlled trial of an infection-control intervention’, Paediatrics, vol. 121 no. 1, pp. 1555-1562.

Tostmann, A, Bousema, T & Oliver, I 2012, ‘Investigation of outbreaks complicated by universal exposure’, Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 18 no. 11, pp. 1717-1722.

Yamamoto, S & Voss, K 2008, ‘Meeting the challenges of toxic microorganisms and pathogens: Implications for food safety and public health’, Food Additives & Contaminants, vol. 25 no. 9, pp. 1047-1049.

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