The Common Causes of Food Poisoning in Children 

The Common Causes of Food Poisoning in Children

Food poisoning! The moment we hear this term, it distresses us. It is such a painful experience for anyone, but when it affects little ones, it becomes even more worrying. Unfortunately, young children’s systems are still building immunity so are more vulnerable to food borne illnesses. In this article, we will put forth some common causes and foods that can trigger food poisoning in kids and what you should do in case of a situation.

● Improperly Cooked Street Food:

Street food is a popular culinary aspect of Indian cuisine, known for its diverse flavors and variety. However, improper cooking techniques and hygiene practices can make certain street foods a potential source of food poisoning. Foods like pani puri, samosas, and bhel puri can carry risks if the ingredients are not adequately cooked, stored, or handled. It is crucial to choose street vendors carefully and opt for freshly prepared food that is cooked thoroughly and served hot.

● Contaminated Dairy Products:

We Indians love our dairy products, don’t we? That’s why we use a lot of dairy products, like milk, dahi, paneer (cottage cheese), and ghee (clarified butter). While these dairy products are highly nutritious, they can also become sources of food poisoning if contaminated. Raw milk (that’s not heated) or unpasteurized milk and improperly processed dairy products can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli. Always buy your diary from reputable stores that stock only fresh items, preferably buy fresh paneer instead of pre-packed paneer . Also, always give your child milk that has been heated once. This will kill the bacteria present.

● Spices and Condiments:

In India, every state’s Indian cuisine uses rich and aromatic spices and condiments. However, you might be surprised to know that spices too can be easily contaminated. Harmful bacteria, molds, or toxins, can build in it leading to food poisoning in kids. Did you know that spices like red chili powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder can be easily adulterated by adding colors and other unsafe agents. Not just that improperly storing it, like in open drums or canisters drastically increases the risk of contamination. So, always pick up branded or use freshly home ground spices in your food preparation. Ensure you store them in cool, dry places to maintain their quality and safety.

● Inadequately Fermented Foods:

Every region of India offers some delectable food that is fermented. Such food offers unique flavors and health benefits. However, inadequate fermentation or improper storage can lead to bacterial growth and food poisoning. Fermented foods like dosa batter, idli, dhokla and pickles can become potential sources of contamination if not prepared and stored correctly. So, always follow proper fermentation techniques, maintain appropriate temperatures, and consume fermented foods within the recommended time frame to minimize the risk of food poisoning in kids.

● Seafood Preparations:

India has a vast coastline. So, seafood is something that’s easily available across many regions with delicacies like fish curry, prawn biryani, crab masala and so much more. Seafood is great for a good dose of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, no doubt but at the same time you should know that seafood can pose a risk of food poisoning – if mishandled or not cooked thoroughly. Contamination can occur during harvesting, transportation, or storage, leading to bacterial growth. So, how do you ensure safe seafood? By ensuring your seafood is sourced only from reputable suppliers, stored at the correct temperature, and cooked to appropriate internal temperatures.

Signs & Symptoms of Food Poisoning in Children

Recognizing the signs of food poisoning in children is crucial for prompt intervention. If you feel there is even a slight possibility that your kid has eaten something unsafe – be alert and watch out for these common food poisoning symptoms in kids:

  • Nausea and Vomiting: This is the most common food poisoning symptoms in kids – persistent nausea and repeated vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: A common symptom. Frequent loose or watery bowel movements. Pay attention to any changes in the color or consistency of their stool.
  • Abdominal Pain and Cramps: Children with food poisoning often complain of stomach pain or cramps. They may hold or rub their abdomen to alleviate discomfort.
  • Fever: Food poisoning can at times also cause a low-grade or high-grade fever. A thermometer can come to your rescue to quickly monitor your little one’s body temperature.
  • Fatigue and Weakness: Food poisoning can leave children feeling tired and weak. They may lack energy and appear lethargic.

Immediate Home Care for Food Poisoning:

Treatment for food poisoning in kids should begin immediately when you suspect it. Here’s what you can do:

  • Hydration: Replenishing lost fluids is crucial to prevent dehydration. Encourage your child to drink plenty of clear liquids such as water, diluted fruit juices, or oral rehydration solutions (ORS). Offer small, frequent sips if your child is vomiting.
  • Rest: Undisputedly the most needed treatment for food poisoning in kids is rest. Get your kid to sleep and rest. Avoid strenuous activities until their condition improves.
  • BRAT Diet: The BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) can help soothe the stomach and provide easily digestible foods. Offer small portions of these foods to your child as their appetite returns. Even khichdi and dahi chawal help.
  • Avoid Certain Foods: During the recovery period, avoid spicy, fatty, and greasy foods, as they can further irritate the digestive system. Also, avoid dairy products until the diarrhea resolves.
  • Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): If your child experiences severe diarrhea or vomiting, an oral rehydration solution can help replace lost electrolytes. Follow the instructions on the package for appropriate dosage and administration.
  • Maintain Proper Hygiene: Ensure that your child washes their hands thoroughly before and after using the toilet and before handling food. This helps prevent the spread of any potential pathogens.
  • Seek Medical Advice: Most cases of food poisoning in children resolve within a few days with home care. But you need to be vigilant about the symptoms in case they are not showing signs of receding. In such a case, immediately meet your pediatrician . These signs can be of dehydration (dry mouth, sunken eyes, reduced urine output).

Better Safe than Sorry!

While enjoying the diverse and flavorful Indian cuisine, it is important to be mindful of the common causes of food poisoning in children. By being aware of what to avoid and also the symptoms in case of a situation you can help protect your child from the harms of food poisoning.

At EuroKids preschool, we prioritize the health and well-being of our students. We encourage parents to send only freshly cooked food for their child’s tiffin, ensuring optimal nutrition and food safety. Most of our centers also provide a meal planner to help parents create fun and healthy meal options, fostering a positive eating experience for their children.

For more such informative blogs, visit EuroKids website.