Over the years, I have heard and read about Liberians leaving the diaspora, going back home and acting like they are special by not drinking the water and being excessively meticulous about the food they eat. Let’s investigate this theory a little.
For those who are not aware. I’m a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. When I’m not firing a M4 or M9 at the range, running a combat fitness test, running a physical fitness test, or doing anything that is combat related, I’m going from base to base, inspecting food establishment on the Marine Corps installations. I am a certify Quality Assurance Evaluator. With this certification, I’m knowledgeable on foodborne illness, food contimanation and the causes of food illness and its association to health risk.
Below, I’m going to discuss the importance of playing it safe. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to cover everything in this article, but I’m going to hit the main points. Before I begin, I want to make this clear, we as humans adapt to our environment. It is very important when you leave the diaspora, please play it safe by watching what you eat, until your immune system adapts to the environment. For those who are already living home, please keep in mind, just because your family once ate unsafe food without getting sick, it doesn’t mean their immune system is still strong to handle it.
Foodborne illness is a disease transmitted to people through food.
Unsafe food is usually the result of contamination, which is the presence of harmful substance in food. To prevent foodborne illness, you must recognize those things that can make food unsafe. Those things come from pathogens, chemicals, or physical objects. They might also come from certain unsafe practices by the person who is cooking the food. Those things that make food unsafe (contaminants) are divided into three categories.
1. Biological: is the greatest threat to food safety. They include certain viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria’s. Some plants, mushrooms, and seafood that carry harmful toxins (poisons) are also included in this group
2. Chemical: cleaning supplies that has chemicals in them can contaminate food.
3. Physical: foreign objects such as metal shavings, staples, bandages, glass, dirt, etc., can get into food.
There are certain groups of people who have a higher risk of getting sick from unsafe food.
a. Elderly People: their immune system weakens with age. The immune system is the body’s defense against illness. For this age group, their immune system is defenseless.
b. Preschool-age: very young children have not built up strong immune systems.
c. People with compromised immune systems: people with cancer or on chemotherapy, people with HIV/AIDS, transplant recipients, people taking certain medications
Food can be contaminated on purpose. But most food contamination happens accidentally. Most contaminants get into food because of the way people handle them. For example, you just return home, your sister is very happy to cook for you, she didn’t wash her hands after using the restroom, and she could contaminate the food with feces (pupu) from her fingers. Once you eat the food, a foodborne illness may occur. This is called the fecal-oral route of contamination.
Symptoms of foodborne illness are diarrhea, vomiting, fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, and jaundice. Some sicknesses cause by contaminated food is: Hepatitis A, Norovirus, E-coli, shigella, salmonella. Salmonella is found in people with typhoid fever; it can be passed on to you from their feces, through the hands touching your food without being wash or through the water source. Majority of the sickness listed above are cause by feces being transfer to your food indirectly. There are other less serve diseases that come from regular germs from dirt, vomit, coughing, etc., being transfer into your food indirectly.
I could write a book on this subject, but I don’t want to bore you. Over all, be safe. Make sure you are eating safe food, don’t get yourself killed because you went back home and tried to prove to your love ones that you haven’t change and is still the same by eating unsafe food. Of course, these disease and unsafe practices do happen in develop countries by there and regulations put in place by the FDS and USDA to help prevent them from happen, they have programs put into place to help educate the population. You can’t say the same for the system back home. For those who are living home, don’t pressure your love ones, when they return, into eating unsafe food; give their immune system time to adjust to the environment.
It is better safe than sorry. You could actually die from unsafe practices that we overlook back home. Not all witch are intentional, you can get seriously sick and died just because you ate unsafe food from someone who had no bad intention. One Love.