If you have ever have a stomach ache that makes you wonder about food poisoning, pay attention to how long symptoms last. Poisoning from Escherichia coli — better known as E. coli bacteria — often mirrors a viral infection, but many times is more severe and persists longer, according to emergency medicine specialist John Tafuri, MD.
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Eating undercooked meat or contaminated produce is the most common cause of E. coli poisoning, he says.
Symptoms of E. coli poisoning include stomach cramping and diarrhea. These symptoms surface three to five days after you ingest the contaminated food.
In severe cases, diarrhea may become bloody, in which case Dr. Tafuri advises seeking medical attention immediately.
Here, courtesy of the CDC, are ways you can avoid E coli poisoning at home:
- Wash your hands, surfaces and utensils often. Wash your hands — both sides, between the fingers and under the nails — with soap and water for 20 seconds under running water. Wash surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after each use. In food preparation, wash fruits and vegetables, but not meat, poultry or eggs.
- Separate foods to avoid cross-contamination. Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. Keep meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery cart and bags. And keep these foods separate from all other foods in the fridge.
- Cook correctly. Use a food thermometer and cook food to the proper temperature. Keep food hot (140 degrees or higher) after cooking. Microwave food thoroughly to 165 degrees and be sure to stir halfway through the cooking time and observe a recipe’s standing time after microwaving.
- Refrigerate foods promptly and properly. Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours. Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. And know when to throw food out.
RELATED: Your Guide to Stopping E. Coli Before It Starts