Give Thanks and Stay Safe

Friday, November 21, 2008 General News
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The California Poison Control System Offers Tips for Food Safety This Thanksgiving

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As families gather together to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, The California Poison Control System (CPCS) provides tips so that holiday gatherings do not include a trip to the emergency room with a food-related illness. The CPCS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer any questions at (800) 222-1222 or

According to the California Department of Health Services, close to 27,000 cases of food poisoning are reported each year but because many more cases are not reported, the actual number may be dramatically higher. The CPCS system provides the following information about food poisoning:

Eating food contaminated with bacteria or viruses can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea are the body's way of eliminating the bacteria, virus or toxin. Although an unpleasant experience, most common cases of food poisoning run their course without needing medical attention.

"Food poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because of the many different organisms that cause it," said Dr. Cyrus Rangan, Assistant Medical Director and Director of the Los Angeles Medical Toxicology Education Program, California Poison Control System. "In addition, symptoms do not always appear soon after ingesting contaminated food and in some cases can take as long as several days to happen."

The most common forms of food poisoning are caused by viruses such as the rotaviruses, noroviruses (Norwalk) and others; and by bacterial contamination such as Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus. These illnesses do not usually require hospital treatment, unless they lead to dehydration from vomiting and/or diarrhea. Less common but more serious food poisonings include:

The easiest way to prevent all of these types of food-related illnesses is to wash hands before, during and after preparing food. Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds. Good sources for more information are,

For more information about food poisoning or other food safety, consumers can call the CPCS at 1-800-222-1222 for advice. Pharmacists, Nurses, Physician-Toxicologists and Poison Information Providers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help. In most cases a poison exposure can be safely managed at home with the help of a CPCS expert, avoiding a call to 911 or a visit to a crowded hospital emergency room.

The CPCS has four divisions located at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco, Children's Hospital Central California in Fresno/Madera and the UC San Diego Medical Center in San Diego. The CPCS is part of the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Pharmacy and operates under a contact and designation by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.

-- Over 55% of food poisoning cases are caused by improper cooking and storage of foods -- Another 24% of cases are caused by not washing hands before handling food -- Only 3% of food poisoning cases are from an unsafe food source

SOURCE California Poison Control System

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