Health Conditions / Digestive Health / Diarrhea

5 Thanksgiving Food Safety Mistakes That Can Make You Seriously Sick

5 Thanksgiving Food Safety Mistakes That Can Make You Seriously Sick

If there’s only one cutting board around, it’s critical to clean and sanitize it in between uses “especially if you are going to use them for a raw product followed by a food that will not be cooked,” Dr. Shumaker says. Scrub your board down with plenty of soap and water to help keep things clean, Bruce Ruck, PharmD, the managing director of the NJ Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells SELF. If you need to have a multipurpose board, reach for a plastic option instead of wood, since plastic boards are nonporous and won’t absorb bacteria into tiny cracks as easily. “Knives have to be washed well too,” Dr. Ruck adds.Don’t forget to keep tabs on how long food sits out.You might be tempted to display your beautiful spread of food before the actual eating takes place, but don’t leave it out too long. The USDA recommends that you refrigerate all perishable foods that have been sitting at room temperature within two hours of being cooked. After two hours, your food may enter the “danger zone,” which ranges between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In that zone, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply. Dr. Ruck suggests wrapping food up and storing it in the fridge or a warming container like a slow cooker or chafing dish once it’s prepared to keep it at the appropriate temperature.As for leftovers? If you can wrap them up and refrigerate them within two hours of the food being prepared and left out, you should be good to go. …and don’t let your prepared dish languish in the car!When you’re traveling for Thanksgiving, don’t neglect any food you’re bringing with you. After all, it’s also subject to that two-hour rule—two hours from the time you prepared it, not two hours since you arrived. Helpful tip, per the USDA: Transport hot foods in insulated containers to keep them at a temperature of 140 degrees or higher. For cold foods, put them in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep them at or below 40 degrees. Keep your hands (and everyone else’s) out of the bread basket.It’s normal to have a charcuterie plate, chips and dip, or a bread basket out for people to serve themselves. To keep things as clean as possible, put out spoons or tongs to make it easy for people to dole out snacks or sides without actually putting their hands all over it. “That’s a good practice in general,” Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, tells SELF. “Who knows where people’s hands have been and how good their hand hygiene is?”Dr. Russo says that the biggest concern in this kind of situation is a bug like norovirus, one of the most common pathogens that can trigger the stomach flu (aka gastroenteritis) or food poisoning, both of which cause relentless vomiting and diarrhea.And norovirus is commonly transmitted via contaminated food or liquids. “It’s extraordinarily infectious,” Dr. Russo stresses, noting that norovirus spreads quickly and easily when an infected person doesn’t wash their hands, including after using the bathroom, and makes direct contact with other people or surfaces other people may touch. Bottom line: How you handle your food matters! You shouldn’t let the stress of potential foodborne illness get in the way of enjoying your meal, but keeping these tips in mind can help you avoid feeling terrible later. And, of course, this isn’t a totally exhaustive list: Check out other food safety tips you should keep in mind year-round here.Related: 

Food Safety Experts Are Begging You to Stop Washing Your Raw Chicken Already

Food Safety Experts Are Begging You to Stop Washing Your Raw Chicken Already

You’re getting ready to make your go-to chicken breast recipe. All the veggies are washed and ready to go. Now it’s time to prep the poultry—but, wait, are you supposed to wash chicken?“Your first inclination is to rinse it off and remove all the goop that’s on there,” Keith Schneider, PhD, a professor and food safety microbiologist at the University of Florida, tells SELF. But the ickiness of raw chicken is cosmetic as long as you plan on cooking it thoroughly. “You’re just making it look prettier by washing,” Dr. Schneider says.In fact, washing your chicken can actually make you or your dinner guests sick with a nasty case of foodborne illness. But don’t feel alone if you wash your bird first. Nearly 70% of 1,504 people surveyed said they washed or rinsed their poultry before cooking it, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Food Protection1.Interested in learning why this common practice isn’t a great idea? SELF talked to food safety experts about why you shouldn’t wash your chicken.So, what is the safest way to cook chicken to avoid getting sick?Chicken is ready to cook right from the package. You want to focus on cooking poultry properly because heat will kill bacteria lingering on your meat. “There’s a reason we don’t eat chicken and turkey sushi,” Dr. Schneider says. Chicken and other types of poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While you may think you can tell when food is cooked properly by analyzing its color or texture, the only way to know for sure is to use a food thermometer.For an accurate reading, Christine Venema, EdD, a food safety educator at Michigan State University Extension suggests sticking the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or the thigh or leg of a whole bird. Don’t touch the bone, which is a different temperature than the rest of the chicken.Back to topWhat are the health risks of washing chicken before cooking it?Raw chicken (and other poultry or meat) can be contaminated with bacteria that may cause foodborne illnesses such as campylobacter and salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “When you hit that [raw] chicken with water, there’s a tendency for the water to bounce off the chicken and spray everywhere,” Dr. Schneider says. And that raw chicken water can splash bacteria onto anything nearby, such as countertops, cooking surfaces, and other food2 (shudder). Hello, cross-contamination.“If you have any food product nearby, it can become contaminated with the bacteria that flies away from that sink,” Dr. Venema tells SELF. The USDA estimates that water can launch bacteria-filled droplets up to three feet around your sink.If you have been washing your chicken for years without any consequences, consider yourself lucky. But continuing to do so opens you up to food poisoning or the stomach flu, which can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, and vomiting, among other unpleasant symptoms, according to the CDC. Individuals who have a higher risk of developing serious cases of food poisoning, like people who are immunocompromised or pregnant, should really avoid washing raw chicken. The only time it might make sense to wash chicken before cooking is if you’re, say, on a farm, and washing the chicken far from where you prepare food, Londa Nwadike, PhD, an assistant professor and extension food safety specialist at Kansas State University, tells SELF. She grew up on a farm and remembers slaughtering chickens for food in her backyard when she was younger. That might then require washing feathers or blood away from the meat. “But the meat from the chicken you buy at [the] grocery store should be clean,” Dr. Nwadike says.

5 Things I Do to Make Living With Crohn’s Feel Less Isolating

5 Things I Do to Make Living With Crohn’s Feel Less Isolating

Luckily, after getting on treatment, I was able to get back to running. I actually ran the Boston Marathon in 2014. I had to stop six times on the course, but since I prepared myself for it, I was mostly just happy to be there. I’ve since gone on to further improve as a runner, even setting a personal best of 3 hours and 5 minutes at the 2021 California International Marathon last December.IBD doesn’t keep me from running—I’ve just learned to adapt. For example, if I’m having any kind of flare-up, I know I’m going to have to plan my route and communicate with my friends. Now that my friends all know, I can just say “We need to stop. I need to find a spot to go.” Now, it’s just something I’m used to dealing with.My doctors have always said, “Do what you can. The healthier you keep the rest of your body, the better it’s probably going to be.” They also encourage me to live my life as close to “normal” as I can. Continuing to run has helped me feel like myself and keep me doing something I love in a community I love, despite IBD.I plan the bathroom situation ahead of time.I try to always keep tabs on bathroom locations and come up with a strategy when I first go somewhere new. On that note: If you hear someone has Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, always show them where the bathroom is. You don’t have to do it in front of everyone or make it obvious, but it means a lot to people dealing with this to have that intel. Being able to plan helped me become more comfortable with leaving the house, and could help provide peace of mind to someone who might feel inclined to turn down an invitation if they don’t have a bathroom plan in place. It can also help people be more open to being social despite the embarrassing nature of the disease.I have, unfortunately, run into situations where I’ve needed to go into a business and ask to use a bathroom and have been denied. Most of the time people are very accommodating, and I think they can see the look in my eye that it’s urgent. But sometimes, I’m still told no. In addition to deciding not to frequent those businesses in the future, it’s made me wary about running in an unfamiliar spot if I’m flaring.I connect with a community online.Reaching out to other people with Crohn’s was another thing that has been helpful for me, especially when I was flaring really bad. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has a huge community of people going through the same thing as you. After sharing publicly (on social media) that I have Crohn’s, I’ve had a lot of people—be it friends of mine or people I don’t even know very well—reach out if they or their loved ones are experiencing something similar, and I love that. I’m happy to be that person for other people learning to navigate the disease.If what you’re experiencing feels isolating, the best thing you can do is reach out to someone you know, even if it’s just someone you know of, who is also dealing with it. Talking openly to people who “get it” made me feel way less isolated and, in fact, like I suddenly had a community around me of people who could relate.This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Is Food Poisoning Contagious? Here’s How It Actually Spreads

Is Food Poisoning Contagious? Here’s How It Actually Spreads

If you regularly take a chance on food—say, an iffy room-temperature burger—you’ve probably paid the price with food poisoning once or twice. And, if you’re firmly in the “risk it and eat the burger” camp, you’re not alone: About 48 million people in the U.S. have food poisoning each year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). Although the pathogens that cause food poisoning are best known for lurking in food left out too long, handled improperly, or contaminated during processing, you can also get this gut-wrenching illness from another person. So the answer to your burning question (Is food poisoning contagious?) is yes, the bugs that can cause food poisoning are contagious.While you can’t avoid all possible food poisoning scenarios, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Because trust us, when we say gut-wrenching, we mean forceful bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, or both at the same time (a situation you want to avoid at all costs).What is food poisoning?Food poisoning and foodborne illness are often used interchangeably but, if we’re splitting hairs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) points out that foodborne illness technically can encompass allergens that are consumed and cause allergic reactions. On the other hand, food poisoning is a form of foodborne illness that occurs only when you consume specific toxins.The contamination process can happen at any point during processing or production. It can also happen at home if you’re not handling food correctly or if you eat uncooked or undercooked food. The biggest culprits of food poisoning seem to be infectious organisms (including parasites, fungi, viruses, and bacteria) or their toxins, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some common food culprits include raw fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood.Back to topIs food poisoning contagious?“Yes, food poisoning can be contagious,” Chantal Strachan, MD, an internist at ColumbiaDoctors and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, tells SELF. More specifically, she says, norovirus, a common cause of food poisoning, is very contagious. “You can become infected from eating contaminated foods and from exposure to bodily fluids (diarrhea or vomit) of an infected person, which is why these outbreaks can be common in densely populated areas like cruise ships or day cares,” Dr. Strachan says. She also says E. Coli and Salmonella are common bacterial causes, with Salmonella being very contagious (generally from fecal matter getting into your mouth). These are typically found in things like ground beef (particularly E.Coli), and contaminated egg yolks, milk, and poultry (looking at you, Salmonella).Back to topHow is food poisoning different from a stomach bug?Both food poisoning and the stomach bug, also called viral gastroenteritis, can wreak havoc on your G.I. system—with symptoms like stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and fever—but there are some key differences worth noting. One is that a virus is responsible for the stomach flu (not actually influenza though, so it’s a bit confusing), while bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other toxins are responsible for the various types of food poisoning. Food poisoning symptoms can also vary in severity and may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to develop symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or drink, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).The dreaded stomach bug wreaks havoc on your intestines, and in addition to the symptoms mentioned above may also include mild muscle aches. This bug tends to surface one to three days after you’re infected, according to the Mayo Clinic.Recovering from both a stomach bug and food poisoning often requires rest and hydration. Occasionally, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning, especially if your symptoms are severe. For example, listeria may need treatment with intravenous antibiotics and hospitalization, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since the stomach bug is a virus, antibiotics will not help.Back to topHow long does each last?The stomach bug moves fast and furious, with symptoms generally appearing one to three days after infection and lasting for a day or two. However, some people get hit hard and may deal with symptoms for up to 14 days, per the Mayo Clinic.Food poisoning is generally short-lived, with symptoms surfacing within a few hours to several days and lasting only a day or two, depending on the cause of food poisoning. On occasion, some illnesses lead to hospitalization, especially in high-risk individuals like older adults, pregnant people, children under five years old, and people with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

We Know You’re Dying to Talk About Period Poop

We Know You’re Dying to Talk About Period Poop

Certain aspects of having a period are talked about more frequently than others, like dealing with menstural cramps, sore boobs, and bloating. But there’s one common symptom that, for whatever reason, gets less buzz: period poop.Yup, it’s not just you—pooping habits can get weird during your period. “Many people do get bowel changes just before or during their period,” Kyle Staller, MD, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells SELF. That includes a whole potential host of things, from period constipation to period diarrhea, with some people just pooping more than usual during that time of the month.Maybe you just happened to notice that period poop is a thing for you and are simply curious about what, exactly, is going on down there. Or maybe period poop is a problem for you and you need a solution ASAP. Either way, getting to the bottom of this (no pun intended) can go a long way toward helping you understand your body and figuring out a solution if your period poops start to interfere with your life. Here’s what you need to know about this totally normal phenomenon.What are period poops?Some people refer to changes in bowel movement that happen around their menstrual cycle as period poops. As with most other period wonkiness, you can thank hormonal fluctuations for this phenomenon. “The reason that this happens is largely due to hormones,” Dr. Staller says. That includes constipation that starts before your period and subsequent diarrhea or excessive pooping that happens once aunt Flo has actually come to town.Preperiod constipation could be a result of an increase in the hormone progesterone, which starts to increase in the time between ovulation and when you get your period.1 Progesterone can cause food to move more slowly through your intestines, backing you up in the process.But levels of progesterone plummet around the same time that your period starts.1 Simultaneously, there’s an increase in hormone-like compounds in your body called prostaglandins. The cells that make up the lining of your uterus (known as endometrial cells), produce these prostaglandins, which get released as the lining of your uterus breaks down right before and during menstruation. These chemicals cause the blood vessels and muscles in the uterus to contract. If your body has high levels of prostaglandins, they can make their way into the muscle that lines your bowels.There, they can cause your intestines to contract just like your uterus and push out fecal matter quickly, Ashkan Farhadi, MD, a gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center, tells SELF. (Fun fact: These prostaglandins are also responsible for those painful menstrual cramps you might get every month.) This explains why you might have diarrhea or poop so much more often during your period.Of course this can all vary for different people. But if you notice you experience constipation or diarrhea right around your period like clockwork, this may be why.Back to topCan health conditions cause period poop changes?Certain health conditions like endometriosis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcerative colitis, can flare up during menstruation, leading to bowel changes. For example, if you struggle with Crohn’s disease, which can often cause diarrhea, or IBS-D (a form of IBS that causes people to have diarrhea), your body’s release of prostaglandins during your period may exacerbate your condition, worsening your diarrhea. But if you suffer from IBS-C (IBS that causes people to have constipation), you may find yourself struggling even more to have a bowel movement on your period as progesterone further slows your bowels’ activity. Since ulcerative colitis can lead to both diarrhea and constipation, you might experience an uptick in either during your period.Back to topWhat does it mean if it hurts to poop during my period?There are a few potential reasons why it might hurt to poop on your period. If it’s something you notice here and there—especially if you’re dealing with a lot of diarrhea—it could be a side effect of diarrhea itself, like cramping in your stomach or even irritation around your anus from going so often, Dr. Farhadi says.

Could Changes in Your Poop Be an Early Sign of Pregnancy?

Could Changes in Your Poop Be an Early Sign of Pregnancy?

When you’re trying to conceive, it’s understandable to hope that sudden bodily changes indicate that it’s finally happened. You may wonder, “Is diarrhea a symptom of pregnancy?” if you’re now hitting up the bathroom all the time. The answer isn’t so straightforward.“Pregnancy can affect your bowel movements, but it’s also common to just get diarrhea for other reasons,” Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, tells SELF.But your bathroom habits may clue you into the state of your G.I. tract and uterus. Let’s dive in.What is diarrhea, exactly?Diarrhea is basically poop hell. But more technically speaking, it’s defined as loose, watery bowel movements that occur three or more times in a day, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). It usually lasts just a day or two which is called acute diarrhea. (Diarrhea that lasts longer than a few days may signal a more serious problem, as can diarrhea lasting a few weeks, called chronic diarrhea1.)Ever wonder what’s actually going on in your body to make your butt expel its contents so violently? There are a few different potential mechanisms, depending on the underlying cause (of which there are many, which we’ll get to). But generally speaking, diarrhea occurs when your digestive system fails to remove enough water from your stool, Rudolph Bedford, MD, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. That commonly happens when stool moves too quickly through the digestive tract, as Merck Manuals explains, or when your stool is diluted by excess water secreted by the intestines.Back to topIs diarrhea a symptom of early pregnancy?The answer is going to take a sec, so pull up a seat.Your hormones fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle, and you might know that these hormonal changes can make your poop real weird around the time of your period2. That’s largely thanks to a hormone that helps prep your body for pregnancy called progesterone.Progesterone levels increase after ovulation, anticipating that the egg your ovaries just released will be fertilized, the NLM explains. If you don’t become pregnant, progesterone levels fall back down, and you get your period. If the egg is fertilized and you do become pregnant, your levels of progesterone will continue to rise, Mary Rosser, MD, PhD, an ob-gyn at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, tells SELF.How does this early pregnancy progesterone surge affect poop? Progesterone helps relax the smooth muscles, like your uterus and intestines. While relaxed intestines might sound like a recipe for the loose, speedy bowel movements that characterize diarrhea, that isn’t what actually happens. In fact, without your G.I. muscles contracting as hard to move things along, food passage starts to slow down and bowel movements become sluggish, G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, an ob-gyn at Memorial Care Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF.In other words, high levels of progesterone result in constipation, i.e. the exact opposite of diarrhea. Many people experience constipation in early pregnancy3, so diarrhea really isn’t an accurate sign of early pregnancy, Dr. Rosser says.Total caveat alert: some people have the opposite reaction.“While constipation is more common in early pregnancy, sometimes the hormonal changes in pregnancy impact people differently and result in diarrhea,” Dr. Greves says. What’s more, some people may be pregnant and crave foods that don’t agree with them, which can lead to diarrhea, Dr. Greves says. For instance, maybe you are lactose intolerant but can’t get enough cheese.Of course, diarrhea can happen for other reasons completely unrelated to growing a baby. One super common cause is a stomach bug, which is caused by consuming food contaminated with parasites, bacteria, or viruses4, Dr. Rosser says. But numerous other things can lead to loose stool, including bacteria-contaminated food or water, viruses (like the flu or norovirus), parasites, certain medications (like antibiotics), and food intolerances, according to the NLM. (And sometimes, the cause is a mystery, but that’s typically NBD if it goes away after a couple days.)

5 Ways People With Ulcerative Colitis Plan for Events

5 Ways People With Ulcerative Colitis Plan for Events

Life doesn’t stop just because you have ulcerative colitis. Friends have dinner parties, family members get married, workout classes happen, and it’s more than understandable to want to get out there. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy though. Ulcerative colitis symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain can be unpredictable and don’t exactly wait to appear until you’re resting at home.Hearing how other people deal with this dilemma can help. SELF connected with five individuals who have ulcerative colitis to find out how they plan for social events. Try their tips the next time you have big plans on the horizon.1. Be mindful of what you eat in the days leading up to an event.Megan S., 38, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2002, and currently experiences very few flare-ups thanks to her medication. But Megan’s symptoms, which include urgent bowel movements, abdominal pain, and fatigue, can still be unpredictable—so she’s always a little nervous they might affect her plans.A few days before an event, Megan does her best to avoid foods that typically trigger her symptoms—especially if she’s already experiencing some bowel changes or abdominal pain, she tells SELF. “I’ll dial back on the harder-to-digest foods like vegetables and salad, and maybe coffee,” Megan says.Katie K., 24, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when she was just 6 years old, so she grew up navigating adolescent milestones, like attending sleepovers and high school graduation, around her condition.“Until I was about 18, I constantly passed up invitations to go out for fear of feeling crummy in a place where I couldn’t get quick access to a restroom,” Katie tells SELF. “I missed out on a lot of experiences and opportunities to make new friends because of this.”Through trial and error, Katie learned that lighter meals generally don’t irritate her stomach—so she avoids eating heavier things like fried foods on days she has plans. “It’s just a matter of lessening the likelihood that I’ll need to use the restroom while I’m out,” she says.2. Research the bathroom situation.Wondering if you can use a bathroom when you need to is a significant barrier when it comes to making plans. There’s a lot to consider: Does the venue have public bathrooms? Are multiple stalls available so you don’t have to wait for one to open up? To ease her mind, Katie tries to find out that information ahead of time.“If I’m going out to someplace new where I feel uncertain about the restroom situation, I’ll read through the venue’s reviews on Facebook and Google to see what people say about the restrooms,” she says. “I also use the We Can’t Wait app from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation to find restrooms when I am out.” You can search for public restrooms on the app as well as establishments that allow people to use employee-only bathrooms, according to the foundation’s website. Flush is another app that lists public restrooms, but it’s only available on iPhones.

Could IBS or IBD Be Causing Your Gut Issues?

Could IBS or IBD Be Causing Your Gut Issues?

As for what causes IBD, both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease happen when a person’s immune system accidentally attacks their G.I. tract, according to the NIDDK. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are separate conditions, but they do share a few risk factors. Both diseases tend to run in families, so researchers are working to understand the connection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Both also usually start causing symptoms before a person turns 30 and are more likely to affect those of Eastern European Jewish descent.There’s also a question of how a person’s environment or lifestyle factors, like medications and diet, may cause or exacerbate both IBD and IBS.Back to topHow do you get an IBS diagnosis or an IBD diagnosis?There’s no definitive test for IBS, so doctors typically diagnose it after excluding most other potential causes. In addition to evaluating your symptoms, they may perform a host of exams to identify the problem.For example, they may order a colonoscopy or a flexible sigmoidoscopy (using a thin tube to examine your rectum and only part of your colon) to see if your gut shows signs of inflammation. IBS symptoms can also mimic an overgrowth of bacteria in your gut or parasites, so your provider might want to conduct a stool sample to check your poop for germs, according to the Mayo Clinic.Because celiac disease, an immune response to eating gluten, can cause similar symptoms, doctors may want to take a blood test to rule it out before diagnosing you with IBS, says Jill Deutsch, MD, a gastroenterologist at Yale Medicine and an assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine. Once celiac and any other conditions your doctor wants to explore are ruled out, IBS can usually be diagnosed based on your symptoms.Diagnosing IBD can be similarly time-consuming. Your doctor will likely order a range of tests to pick up on any abnormalities that could signal these conditions, including blood tests, a colonoscopy, a flexible sigmoidoscopy, or an x-ray or CT scan. They may also test your poop to see if any blood is present. According to Dr. Hanauer, doctors often look for white blood cells—which may signal inflammation in the gut—in your stool if they’re testing for inflammatory bowel disease.If your doctor suspects Crohn’s disease has affected your small intestine, they may also have you do exams like a capsule endoscopy, which involves swallowing a capsule that has a camera in it to view your intestines. An external recorder captures the images, and you’ll later poop the capsule out.Back to topWhat does IBS treatment look like vs. IBD treatment?Although IBS and IBD share commonalities, they aren’t managed in the same way. “The treatment of IBD is focused on controlling inflammation. IBS treatment is about controlling the heightened sensitivity to what’s going on in the gut,” Dr. Hanauer says.If you’re diagnosed with IBS, your doctor may recommend a range of treatment options depending on your exact symptoms, and it can take some trial and error to get it right. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have IBS-C (which causes constipation), your doctor might suggest adding more fiber to your diet since it soaks up water as it moves through your digestive system, making your poop softer and easier to expel. They may also recommend laxatives or prescription medications that boost the amount of fluid that gets into your poop.

Certain Kinder Chocolates Have Been Recalled Due to Salmonella Concerns

Certain Kinder Chocolates Have Been Recalled Due to Salmonella Concerns

Ferrero has voluntarily recalled some of its Kinder chocolates in the U.S. due to potential salmonella contamination, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Thursday. Both the Kinder Happy Moments Milk Chocolate and Crispy Wafers Assortment and Kinder Mix Chocolate Treats Basket are being removed from shelves because the Belgian plant in which they were produced experienced a salmonella outbreak. Earlier this week, various Kinder chocolate products were recalled in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Denmark. As of April 5, 2022, 134 salmonella cases have been reported in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The first case was reported in the United Kingdom in early January 2022, with Ferrero initially identifying the outbreak in mid-December 2021. “While there are no reports of illness in the United States to date, Ferrero is voluntarily recalling the products out of an abundance of caution due to reported cases of salmonella in people that consumed products in Europe that were manufactured at the same facility,” the FDA said in a statement.  Salmonella bacteria is estimated to cause about 1.35 million infections (and 26,500 hospitalizations) in the U.S. every year, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For most of these cases, contaminated food is the underlying cause of the illness. Usually, people who have been infected with salmonella experience symptoms like diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, headache, nausea, and loss of appetite, which might develop between six hours to six days after infection. Most people will recover from salmonella within a few days to a week and will not need any medical attention or treatment—it’s just important to keep fluid intake high because symptoms like diarrhea and fever can be dehydrating. In rare cases—especially for infants, people aged 65 and older, or those who have weakened immune systems—life-threatening complications can develop if the salmonella spreads beyond the G.I. tract. Related: FDA Links Raw Oysters to Norovirus Outbreak in at Least 13 StatesFerrero announced on Friday that it is suspending its operations in its Belgian plant “with immediate effect.” The Belgian plant, located in the city of Arlon, is responsible for producing around 7% of Kinder products each year. According to Ferrero, the salmonella outbreak was the result of a filter at an outlet from two raw material tanks. “We deeply regret this matter. We want to sincerely apologize to all our consumers and business partners and thank the food safety authorities for their valuable guidance,” the Italian confectionery company said in a statement. While the affected filters have been extracted, the plant will only continue production once relevant investigations have been carried out and officials deem it safe to do so.If you’re concerned about whether you have purchased the potentially contaminated chocolates, here are the details for each one:Kinder Happy Moments Milk Chocolate and Crispy Wafers AssortmentSize and packaging: 14.1 oz (400 g) square box with lidBest by date: July 18, 2022 (back panel)Lot codes: 48RUP334; 48RUP335; 48RUP336; 48RUP337 (back panel)UPC code: 09800 52025 (right side panel)Place of purchase: Costco in the Bay Area and Northern Nevada and BJ’s Wholesale Club storesKinder Mix Chocolate Treats BasketSize and packaging: 5.3 oz (152 g) cardboard basketBest by date: July 30, 2022 (bottom of package)Lot codes: 03L 018AR – 306 (bottom of package)UPC code: 09800 60209 (bottom of package)Place of purchase: 14 Big Y Supermarket locations in Connecticut and MassachusettsFerrero advises that you do not eat the chocolates if they meet this description. To receive a refund, you can call the Ferrero customer service line at 1-800-688-3552 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. E.T.) or fill out an online form. 

The FDA Just Issued a Raw Oyster Warning Due to a Norovirus Outbreak

The FDA Just Issued a Raw Oyster Warning Due to a Norovirus Outbreak

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently tackling a norovirus outbreak linked to raw oysters harvested in British Columbia, Canada. The FDA is working with federal, state, and local officials, as well as Canadian public health authorities, to determine exactly where the potentially contaminated oysters were distributed in order to notify retailers and prevent them from being served, sold, or supplied. “Retailers should not serve raw oysters harvested from the following harvest locations within British Columbia, BC 14-8, and BC 14-15, with harvest starting as early as January 31, 2022, which will be printed on product tags,” the FDA said in a statement. So far, the FDA has confirmed that the oysters—which were harvested in the south and central regions of Baynes Sound—were supplied to restaurants and retailers in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. “It is possible that additional states received these oysters through further distribution within the U.S.,” the FDA said.According to the CDC, as of April 6, 2022, 103 norovirus illnesses have been reported in the 13 confirmed states. “The CDC is working with state and local partners to determine a more accurate number of illnesses in this outbreak and will update this number as more information is gathered,” the agency said in a statement.Norovirus (commonly known as stomach flu) is a highly contagious virus that causes persistent vomiting and diarrhea and is the most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S. According to the CDC, there are approximately 2,500 norovirus outbreaks reported each year. The virus spreads when an infected person has direct contact with others or through contaminated foods or surfaces. The CDC specifically calls out shellfish, such as oysters, as an example: “Quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish may not heat foods sufficiently to kill noroviruses.” In another possible scenario, a person can eat food that leads to stomach flu, and then spread these germs around their immediate environment, where others can then pick up the pathogen and become sick.Research suggests that norovirus, when present, can potentially persist in oyster tissues for weeks and cannot be properly eradicated during commercial cleaning. While food contaminated with norovirus may appear normal, and even smell and taste normal, it can make you feel very ill. Symptoms, which will typically appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus, can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, body aches, stomach cramps, and headache, per the CDC. If you suspect you have norovirus, reach out to your doctor if you have one or visit your local urgent care clinic. From there, a health-care professional will be able to confirm your diagnosis and recommend the next best steps. Most people affected by norovirus will begin to feel better after two to three days (granted, those two to three days will likely be pretty rough). Getting enough fluids to avoid dehydration, resting, and sticking to “bland foods” to avoid further stomach upset is key.Related: Stomach Flu vs. Food Poisoning: Is It Possible to Tell Symptoms Apart?Until the FDA and CDC have more information, avoid eating raw oysters harvested from the BC 14-8 and BC 14-15 oyster farms in British Columbia. If you have already purchased these oysters, you should discard them immediately. To protect yourself and those around you from norovirus in general, the FDA and CDC recommend the following tips:Wash your hands with soap and water often, ideally for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating or handling food.Wash produce thoroughly before you prepare or eat it.Cook shellfish thoroughly, as noroviruses can withstand temperatures as high as 145°F.Do not prepare food or have direct contact with other people when you are sick with stomach flu, and for at least two days after your symptoms end.Clean and disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces while wearing gloves.Wash potentially contaminated laundry thoroughly in hot water.

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