Abu Dhabi/Sharjah/Dubai: With day-time temperatures hovering close to 50 degree Celsius, doctors have warned people to be careful about the risk of food poisoning during the hot and humid summer.

Dr Ravin Mehta, internist and head of medicine at Al Noor Hospital, said he attends to an average of 15 food poisoning cases daily during the summer, compared to about three during winter.

"Proper care of food is vital; it should be kept in containers and the temperature should not be less than eight degree Celsius, especially when being transported," said Dr Mehta. He adds that people eating outdoors at picnics should make sure their food is fresh and well cooked.

"Avoid eating salad during the summer unless you are sure it is washed properly and don't eat raw fish."

Dr Raji Mathew, specialist physician at the Emirates Diagnostic Clinic, had this advice: "Eat fresh food as much as possible and refrigerated food should be warmed and consumed immediately," he said.

He warned against keeping food out of the fridge at room temperature and eating it later. "There is a higher chance of food getting contaminated and spoilt this way."

A spokesperson for Al Zahra Hospital, Sharjah, said the hospital has been receiving several food poisoning cases lately. "People have to be careful at this time of the year because the weather is hot and humid, which enables bacteria to grow at a faster rate. If a small child has food poisoning, he will dehydrate at a faster rate and the severity of the case also depends on the bacteria in the body. People should take precautions by using clean cutlery and also remember to store meat and milk-based food in a clean, cool environment."

Dr Ravi Arora, internist physician specialist at New Medical Centre, sees on an average 10 food-poisoning cases a day as against two or four cases in winter.

"Food poisoning [risk] is much higher during summer, but I would not blame it solely on food. It could be a virus transmitted because of unhygienic conditions. A virus can come from a dirty fork, plate or a person's own hands," he said.

Dr Arora said washing hands frequently and avoiding eating in places where hygiene could be compromised were the best safeguards but added that between 70 to 80 per cent of bacterial food poisoning cases could be self-treated.

"Food poisoning patients are likely to get better on their own after three to four days of receiving adequate bed rest, eating nutritious food and drinking enough fluids. No antibiotics will work if it is a viral [infection]," he said.

Dr Roshan John, internist at Lifeline Hospital, had a different opinion. "I see up to four food poisoning in-patients a day during winter and not more than two in summer. Rotavirus [a virus transmitted through unhygienic water and food] is the leading single cause of diarrhoea among infants and young children, and multiplies more in the winter time," he said.

Hygiene: Simple safeguards

- Avoid salads while eating out n Wash hands before eating
- Make sure plates and cutlery are properly washed
- Avoid consuming raw fish
- Make sure food is well cooked and fresh
- Drink lots of fluids if you have diarrhoea or vomiting

Have you ever had food poisoning in a restaurant? How serious was it? Did the restaurant take responsibility for it?

Your comments

I am very sensitive when food spoilage occurs, at once understand that now bacteria started growing. whILE taking food from resturant, before taking it, its smell and color alerting me and i am giving up. All right summer already started, extreme care should be taken, while inspectors of the municpalities should particulary concentrate over this issue, and should daily inspect the resturants
Daud Khan Bangash
Posted: June 02, 2009, 13:52

It is a fact that a large number of people are having food in restaurents so it should be brought to the officials
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: June 02, 2009, 13:18

We are regular outside eaters with our children. When we were infected by food poisoning many times it is the children who suffered the most. I did not give up eating from out until I found the reason for that and it is the Salad and fruits in most of the restaurants that causes this problem and the half cooked meat and hygiene. I eat outside means no salad is served and no BBQ by others even reputed outlets unless I see and taste first than I pass to my children. You must protect your Health after all it's your body.
F. S. Ferrao
Posted: June 02, 2009, 12:46

Please note that the temperature requirement for chilled food storage/transportation should be not be more than 5 C. because most of the pathogenic organism grow between 5C. to 65 C. and the report state that should not be less than 8C.
Abdul Azeez
Posted: June 02, 2009, 12:37

yes, my son went for party and the next day he got food poison and he vomitted 12 times within 5 hours time with immediate medical care he got relief and still hes under observation. thank you.
Posted: June 02, 2009, 11:05

Chances of food poisoning generally occur from restaurant food. When we make food at home, we immediately get to know when it turns stale and avoid eating it. But in restaurants, due to mixing and various colours and flavours used the spoilt food goes unnoticed right onto the customers plate. Restaurants will never take responsibility for the food they serve as there is no 100 percent way in which it can be proved that food poisoning occurred due to the food eaten at a restaurant. Food poisoning occurs due to contaminated food or method of preparation and the best solution especially during summer is to * eat from highly reputed outlets, eat fresh hot food, avoid cold salads and milk shakes* prepare food at home and avoid eating from outside. Food poisoning leaves a person very weak. Fluids which contain minerals and salts must be consumed. At home also we must take necessary precautions while cooking, storing and consuming food. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
Naina Nair
Posted: June 02, 2009, 09:55

Yes, I was poisoned in January 2007. I was eating at a restaurant in Abu Dhabi, and within one hour of arriving at a friends place, I threw up everything. I was still throwing up as I drove home in the taxi; but not in the taxi itself of course! I have never experienced such a violent and sudden reaction before in my life. It took me quite by surprise. I returned to the restaurant the next day, and spoke to the person in charge. Of course he denied it had anything to do with their food!! He would, wouldn't he. He told me all prepared food is checked by the authorities in Abu Dhabi. Obviously that doesn't mean anything. He was not even interested in returning my money, over Dh300. Needles to say, I have never eaten at the hotel since! Something however that needs to be said in your report above, and that is this: How many people are ignorant of the dreadful dangers associated with re-freezing food, particularly meat and fish. If this stuff is defrosted, it can be fatal if it is then refrozen and defrosted for a second time. On bringing frozen food from the supermarket, it must be placed immediately in the freezer. It must never be allowed to defrost in these temperatures unless it is to be consumed straight away. At a supermarket for instance, customers are made aware that certain foods must not be refrozen. But do people realise why? How can one be sure that freezing and refreezing hasn't already occurred at the place of purchase? I am surprised that you have not mentioned this in your report quite frankly.
Roger Swainson
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: June 02, 2009, 09:17