Symptoms of Food Poisoning from Beef

Food poisoning can happen when the beef is improperly handled, stored or cooked, and this is the result of contamination by different bacteria. Symptoms of food poisoning from eating beef can happen from 3 to 24 hours after the consumption of contaminated beef. It is important to seek medical treatment whenever severe food poisoning occurs.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning from Beef

1. Intestinal Symptoms

This is one of the main systems that get affected whenever food poisoning happens. The small and large intestines react to bacteria present in the beef with different symptoms like nausea, bloating or even abdominal pain. Vomiting happens as a way for your stomach to get rid of the invading organisms. Bacteria like E. coli or salmonella may cause heavy diarrhea containing blood, and this can last for around a week.

2. Elevated Temperature

The elevated temperature, also known as fever, is an inflammatory defensive reaction from your body against bacteria and other external damaging agents. Fever is sometimes accompanied by chills and is a normal reaction unless it goes too high for a very long time. The best thing to do is to consult a doctor if your fever is lasting more than 48 hours.

3. Body Aches

Body aches can be one of the symptoms of food poisoning from beef. You can experience pain or aches around your head or muscles due to the chemicals that your body releases to help fight against the invading bacteria. You can also experience dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting, and the amount of electrolytes present in your system will be reduced, which can lead to soreness in the muscles along with weakness.

4. Additional Symptoms

Most of the symptoms are present in the digestive system. But in rare cases, food poisoning after eating beef can cause a disease called “botulism” which can lead to vision impairment, eye nerve paralysis along with slurred speech and swallowing problems. In severe cases, it can also cause complete body paralysis and respiratory failure.

Another dangerous complication is the campylobacteriosis which can cause urinary problems as well as severe case of arthritis.

Treatments for Food Poisoning from Beef

Now you know these symptoms of food poisoning from beef, so what are the treatments?

1. Medical Treatments

There is usually no need to seek medical attention when suffering from food poisoning after eating beef. However, you must pay attention to sever symptoms like breathing problems or vomiting that lasts more than 12 hours. In these cases, it is important to seek medical attention. Some of the treatments may include:

  • Fluid and electrolyte replacement: Persistent diarrhea may cause loss of potassium, calcium and sodium, and they need to be replaced immediately. Hospitalization is needed in some cases when children and adults suffer from persistent vomiting and diarrhea. They will receive intravenous fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Antibiotics: There are times when certain dangerous bacteria are causing the problems. In this case, your physician will prescribe you some antibiotics. Bacteria like listeria need to be treated as soon as possible in a hospital with intravenous antibiotics. 
  • Loperamide (Imodium A-D) or bismuth subsalicylate (pepto-bismol): These are common treatments for simple diarrhea that shows no traces of blood or fever. Consult with your physician first about these options.

2. Home Remedies

Some forms of food poisoning do not need treatment. In order to better help you recover in this cases and avoid dehydration, the following treatments can work.

  • Avoid food or drinks for a few hours in order to help your stomach calm down.
  • Drinking some water or sucking ice can help you hydrate. Try to drink beverages like decaffeinated sport drinks, clear soda or broth. 
  • Whenever you try to eat, eat soft and low fat foods that are easy to digest, such as jello, banana, rice, and breads. If your nausea returns, it is better to stop eating altogether.
  • There are certain foods that should be avoided until you get better. Some of them include caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, dairy and highly seasoned or fatty food.
  • Get some sleep and give your body time to heal itself.

Prevention for Food Poisoning from Beef

After knowing the symptoms of food poisoning from beef, you must want to know how to prevent food poisoning from happening. Here is what to do.

1. Wash Your Hands, Utensils and Food Surfaces Often

This is one of the most important things to do in order to avoid food contamination, including beef. Always wash your hands with a lot of warm water and soap before handling any kind of food. You should also wash all utensils such as knifes and cutting boards.

2. Cook Beef to a Safe Temperature

Beef should always be cooked to 150-160 Fahrenheit or 72 Celsius. Meats such as lamb, pork, and veal should be cooked for around 145 Fahrenheit or 63 Celsius; and chicken and turkey should be cooked to 166 Fahrenheit or 74 Celsius. Cooking the beef and other meat to a safe temperature can help kill harmful bacteria. The best way to know the temperatures is to use a food thermometer.

3. Refrigerate or Freeze Beef Promptly

The beef must be refrigerated within 2 to 3 hours after buying or preparing it. 

4. Defrost Beef Safely

Do not defrost beef at room temperatures since this increases the amount of bacteria inside the beef. Instead, defrost beef inside the refrigerator. If you microwave frozen beef, cook it immediately after defrosting.

5. Throw It When in Doubt

Discard your beef if you are not sure about its safety. Some types of bacteria cannot be destroyed even after cooking. If the beef has been left too long outside of a refrigerator, it is better to just throw it away even if it smells fine.

6. Protect the Beef from Insects and Animals

  • A great way to keep insects or animals away from your beef is to store it in a sealed container inside a fridge.
  • Never leave beef at your pet’s reach during the preparation and cooking process since it can get contaminated by your cat or dog. Try to cover cooked beef with a wrap or a lid before serving it.
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