Ministry of Public Health: Safe Food Preparation during 2023 Carnival Helps Prevent Gastroenteritis

April 27, 2023  -GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – During the 2023 Carnival season there will be lots to eat and drink. In connection with safe food preparation at home or grabbing a bite from food kiosks; street market vendors; booth holders; and other points of sale, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), reminds the public of the importance to observe and practice safe food handling at any one of the aforementioned locations to ensure proper food safety and a safe Carnival season.

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestine, which is usually due to acute infection by viruses or bacteria or to food-poisoning toxins and causes vomiting and diarrhea.  Laboratory testing is recommended to identify the specific virus associated with gastroenteritis.

Unsafe food poses health threats, endangering everyone.  Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with an underlying illness are particularly vulnerable.

Food can become contaminated at any point of production and distribution, and the primary responsibility lies with food producers and consumers.  A large proportion of foodborne disease incidents are caused by improperly prepared or mishandled foods at home, or in food service establishments.

The associated symptoms with gastroenteritis are diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, fever, and headache.  The most common symptoms are vomiting and repeated episodes of diarrhea (three or more episodes within 24 hours). To ensure proper diagnosis, care, and treatment, consult your physician and for confirmation must be referred to the lab by the physician.

Foodborne illness is an umbrella term that describes any illness caused by consuming foods or beverages contaminated with harmful pathogens – such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi – or their toxins. A foodborne illness may be due to an infection or intoxication. A foodborne infection can occur if you eat foods that contain live bacteria or other pathogens. These pathogens can later grow in your gut and cause symptoms such as abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Infection can spread when bacteria found in faeces or vomit is transferred to other objects.  Bacteria can be transferred through poor hygiene. It is spread through contamination of hands, objects or food infected with the aforementioned.

For example, if someone does not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, any viruses or bacteria on their hands will be transferred to whatever they touch, such as glass, kitchen utensil or food.

To prevent the spread of the infection, wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food; regularly clean hard surface/counters and wipe down with Clorox solution. Make it a routine habit to adhere to proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

If a food handler, a caretaker or persons, are diagnosed with gastroenteritis, with your physician’s consultation, you should remain at home and practice good hygiene while you recuperate.

This will help to mitigate the further spread of gastroenteritis cases within the community.  Be on the alert and help minimize the spread of diseases by taking the necessary hygienic and preventive steps.

Proper hand hygiene helps in preventing bacteria and germs.  Let us collectively have a safe, healthy, and enjoyable Carnival Season 2023.

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