Health Tidbits

Don’t Let Food Poisoning ruin your Holiday!


Everyone’s been there, I know. After a great time with family and an equally great meal…it hit’s you, right in the gut! The next 24-36 hours you become the envy of no one. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) every year in America about 48 million people experience food poisoning. Of those 48 million, 128 thousand are hospitalized and about 3 thousand people actually die from food poisoning and its complications


Food poisoning is a lay term for a group of food-borne illnesses that are usually caused by bacteria or their toxins and can ruin an evening in a heartbeat. It is typified by sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/orabdominal pain – usually without fever. The symptoms last around a day and a half with the worst part lasting about 12 hours. 


Here are some tips to keep you feeling well after your meals this Christmas season instead of fighting with your stomach


1. Wash your hands often when preparing food – especially after handling raw meat. This is where prevention begins. Soaps used should be anti-bacterial and the water should be warm. 
2. Clean the counter, cutting boards, and other utensils as often as possible. Wooden cutting boards should be avoided when possible because they are more difficult to clean. 
3. Single-use paper towels are preferred over dish cloths which can breed bacteria if not cleaned often enough. 
4. Store meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so that juices cannot drip onto foods beneath them. 
5. Be sure to cool leftovers in the refrigerator as quickly as possible and avoid eating them after 2 days. 
6. Cook meat thoroughly. Consuming raw meat greatly enhances your chances for a very bad night. 
7. When defrosting food, remember that the safest way is to move frozen items to the refrigerator – not the counter. 
8. Finally, when in doubt…throw it out. If an expiration date is not clear or if the food does not appear as it should, just throw it away.


I hope you find these tips helpful this Christmas season. I leave you now with a word of wisdom. As you go to your each of your Christmas parties, be careful what you eat – because the cook may not have been as careful as you would like.


Dr. Dustin Gentry is a Family Medicine physician at Winston Medical Center. He has an active clinic, nursing home, and hospital practice at WMC and is available forall your healthcare needs. Read this and other articles at You can schedule an appointment today by calling 773-3503