All About Food Poisoning

The leading causes of food poisoning are from carelessness and ignorance. Knowledge of basic food safety principles and food problems will help prevent many of the problems.Food poisoning occurs when you swallow food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins made by these germs. The majority of food borne illness is caused by certain strains of bacteria and viruses. Parasites and chemicals may also cause food borne illness.  For more information, I highly recommend you take a look at the The CDC is continually studying diet and disease.


Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.

Every year, approximately 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be twenty-nine or more times greater.Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other persons.


1. Incubation-

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 4 to 72 hours after infection.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.

Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration with intravenous fluids.

2. Symptoms

cramps, headache, diarrhea, fever vomiting, blotting.

3. Cause-

  • Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds.
  • It is usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.
  • Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.
  • Contaminated foods are often of animal origins, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but any food, including vegetables, may become contaminated.
  • Thorough cooking kills Salmonella.
  • Food may also become contaminated by the hands of an infected food handler who did not wash hands with soap after using the bathroom.

*Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea, and people can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with pets or pet feces. Reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, are particularly likely to harbor Salmonella. Many chicks and young birds carry Salmonella in their feces. People should always wash their hands immediately after handling a reptile or bird, even if the animal is healthy. Adults should also assure that children wash their hands after handling a reptile or bird, or after touching its environment.

4. Food involved-

Egg, poultry, shellfish, meat, soup, sauce, gravies, milk products, and warmed over food.

5. Preventives measures

  • Reheat left overs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (74 C). Since Salmonella can be killed by high temperatures, cook to proper temperatures. Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly.
  • Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurized) milk.
  • If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don’t hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
  • Clean kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
  • Eliminate rodents and flies.
  • Wash hands after going to the bathroom and after playing with your pet, avoid cross contamination.
  • Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.
  • Don’t work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.
  • Mother’s milk is the safest food for young infants. Breastfeeding prevents salmonellosis and many other health problems.


Staphylococcal aureus-

Staphylococcal aureus is a common bacterium that lives on the skin or in the nose.  In most cases it is harmless. But can cause a mild to severe infections. Staphylococcal food poisoning is a gastrointestinal illness. It is caused by eating foods contaminated with toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus.

1. Incubation period-

  • 2 to 4 hours.
  • is salt tolerant and can grow in salty foods like ham.
  • As the bacterium multiplies in food, it produces toxins that can cause food poisoning.
  • Staphylococcal toxins are resistant to heat and cannot be destroyed by cooking

2. Symptoms-

  • Staphylococcal toxins are fast acting, sometimes causing illness in as little as 30 minutes after eating contaminated foods, but symptoms usually develop within one to six hours.
  • Patients typically experience several of the following: nausea, retching, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

The illness cannot be passed to other people, and it typically lasts for one day, but sometimes it can last up to three days.

In a small minority of patients, the illness may be more severe.

3. Cause-

  • Spread by skin on skin contact or by touching contaminated surfaces
  • Poor personal hygiene and not covering open wounds can lead to Staphylococcus aureus: facultative bacteria, found in the nose, throat, and in skin infections of humans.
  • Food workers who carry Staphylococcus and then handle food without washing their hands will contaminate  foods by direct contact.
  • The bacterium can also be found in unpasteurized milk and cheese products.
  • Staphylococcus
  • All foods handled by anyone with the virus is at risk
  • Foods at highest risk of producing toxins from Staphylococcus aureus are those that are made by hand and require no cooking.
  • Some examples of foods that have caused staphylococcal food poisoning are sliced meat, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches.
  • The foods may not smell bad or look spoiled to produce the toxins.

4. Preventives Measures-

  • Store foods below 40 degrees F (4 C) and reheat to 165 degrees F (74 C)
  • People with infected cuts, burns or respiratory illness should not handle food.
  • Keep food out of the danger zone.
  • Strict hygiene practices should always be practiced in the kitchen.


Escherichia coli –

(E. coli) are prevalent bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, and part of the normal bacterial flora. However, some E.coli strains can produce a toxin that could produce severe infection.

1. Incubation period-

1 to 4 days.

2. Symptoms-

  • Watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting with or without low fever
  • Some cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia, and other diseases.
  • Most people get better within 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

3. Cause-

  • Through food or water contaminated with human or animal feces.
  • Person-to-person transmission may also occur, but is likely to be less common
  • Infections start when you swallow contaminated matter—in other words when you get tiny (usually invisible) amounts of human or animal feces in your mouth. Unfortunately, this happens more often than we would like to think about.

Exposures that result in illness include consumption of contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk, consumption of water that has not been disinfected, contact with cattle, or contact with the feces of infected people.

4. Food involved-

  • Meat can become contaminated during slaughter, and organisms can be thoroughly mixed into beef when it is ground.
  • Bacteria present on the cow’s udders or equipment may get into raw milk
  • Eating meat, especially ground beef that has not been cooked sufficiently to kill E. coli can cause infection. Contaminated meat looks and smells normal
  • Other known sources of infection is consumption of sprouts, lettuce, salami, unpasteurized milk and juice
  • Swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water.

5. Preventive measures

  • Wash hands after going to the bathroom or changing diapers or after handling animals.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked ground beef, pork, lamb, or sausage.
  • Cook all ground meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk and juice.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Prevent cross contamination of food preparation areas by cleaning all counters, cutting boards and utensils after they touch raw meat.
  • Keep all raw meat separate from ready to eat foods


Clostridium botulinum (Botulism)-

Botulism is a serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Food botulism is the most common form of the disease and is caused by eating foods that contain the botulinum toxin.  Clostridium botulinum is the name of a group of bacteria. They can be found in soil. These rod-shaped organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions. The bacteria form spores which allow them to survive in a dormant state until exposed to conditions that can support their growth.

1. Incubation period-

In food borne botulism, symptoms begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as ten days – diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and central nervous system damaged (possible paralysis).

The other symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin.

If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk.

Fatality rate up to 70%

2. Cause-

A nerve toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum: anaerobic bacteria that from spores with high resistance to heat. Found in animal intestines, water, and soil. The disease occurs after eating foods containing the toxin.

3. Food involved

Refrigerated, low acid foods or improperly canned foods, such as tuna, spinach, green beans and smoked products. Rare in commercially canned foods.

4. Preventives measures

  • Toxin is sensitive to heat, so maintain a high temperature where canning food and boil 20 before serving
  • Do not use food in swollen cans or home canned food for commercial use.  Foodborne botulism has often been from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn and is caused by failure to follow proper canning methods.
  • However, seemingly unlikely or unusual sources are found every decade, with the common problem of improper handling during manufacture, at retail, or by consumers; some examples are chopped garlic in oil, canned cheese sauce, chile peppers, tomatoes, carrot juice, and baked potatoes wrapped in foil.
  • In Alaska, food borne botulism is caused by fermented fish and other aquatic game foods.
  • Persons who do home canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods, and carefully follow instructions on safe home canning including the use of pressure canners/cookers as recommended through county extension services or from the US Department of Agriculture.
  • Oils infused with garlic or herbs should be refrigerated.
  • Potatoes which have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil should be kept hot until served or refrigerated.
  • Because the botulinum toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety.
  • Wound botulism can be prevented by promptly seeking medical care for infected wounds and by not using injectable street drugs
  • Most infant botulism cases cannot be avoided because the bacteria that causes this disease is in soil and dust
  • The bacteria can be found inside homes on floors, carpet, and countertops even after cleaning.
  • Honey can contain the bacteria that cause infant botulism so, children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey.
  • Honey is safe for persons one year of age and older.

5. Treatment

The respiratory failure and paralysis that occur with severe botulism may require a patient to be on a breathing machine (ventilator) for weeks or months, plus intensive medical and nursing care. The paralysis slowly improves.

Botulism can be treated with an antitoxin which blocks the action of toxin circulating in the blood.
Antitoxin for infants is available from the California Department of Public Health, and antidote for older children and adults

6. Treatment available through CDC.

If given before paralysis is complete, an antitoxin can prevent worsening and shorten recovery time.
Physicians may try to remove contaminated food still in the gut by inducing vomiting or by using an enema.

Wounds should be treated, usually surgically, to remove the source of the toxin-producing bacteria followed by administration of appropriate antibiotics. Good supportive care in a hospital is the mainstay of therapy for all forms of botulism.




Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Because the clinical characteristics are the same for all types of acute viral hepatitis, Hepatitis A diagnosis must be confirmed by a positive serologic test for immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody to Hepatitis A virus, or the case must meet the clinical case definition

1. Incubation

period 10 to 50 days before the onset of symptoms.

2. Symptoms

  • Jaundice, fever, cramps, nausea, lethargy, general malaise, abdominal pain, dark colored urine,clay colored bowel movements, joint pain
  • Some persons, particularly young children, are asymptomatic, 70% of infections are asymptomatic; if illness does occur, it is typically not accompanied by jaundice. Among older children and adults, infection is typically symptomatic, with jaundice occurring in >70% of patients.
  • Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although 10%–15% of symptomatic persons have prolonged or relapsing disease for up to 6 months

3. Cause

  • Transmitted by water and from person to person, and infects the liver
  • Person-to-person transmission through the fecal-oral route (i.e., ingestion of something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person) is the primary means of HAV transmission in the United States. Most infections result from close personal contact with an infected household member or sex partner.
  • Common-source outbreaks and sporadic cases also can occur from exposure to fecal contaminated food or water. Waterborne outbreaks are infrequent in developed countries with well-maintained sanitation and water supplies
  • Uncooked HAV-contaminated foods have been recognized as a source of outbreaks. Cooked foods also can transmit HAV if the temperature during food preparation is inadequate to kill the virus or if food is contaminated after cooking, as occurs in outbreaks associated with infected food handlers


4. Food involved

Shell fish from polluted water, milk, whipped cream, cold cuts, and potato salad.

5. Preventives Measures

  • Cook clams, and shellfish, etc., thoroughly to a temperature exceeding 150 degrees F (65C)
  • Heat treat and disinfect suspected water and milk
  • Enforce strict personal hygiene
  • with hepatitis A, or if you are planning to travel to country a with high rates of hepatitis A. Vaccination with the full, two-dose series of Hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent HAV infection. Hepatitis A vaccine has been licensed in the United States for use in persons 12 months of age and older. The vaccine is recommended for persons who are more likely to get HAV infection or are more likely to get seriously ill if they get Hepatitis A, and for any person wishing to obtain immunity
  • Good hygiene — including hand washing after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food — is also integral to Hepatitis A prevention, given that the virus is transmitted through the fecal–oral route. Environmental surfaces can be cleaned with a freshly prepared solution of 1:100 dilution of household bleach
  • Get vaccinated if you are exposed to a person infect


Campylobacter jejuni

Infection with Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis worldwide.

1. Incubation period

About 12 hours. The illness typically lasts about one week

2. Symptoms

influenza like symptoms including persistent also nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea abdominal pain, fever. Some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection.

3. Cause

Listeria monocytogenes is presumably ingested with raw, contaminated food. Its ability to grow at temperatures as low as 3°C permits multiplication in refrigerated foods. A peculiar property of L. monocytogenes that affects its food-borne transmission is the ability to multiply at low temperatures. These bacteria are fragile. They cannot tolerate drying and can be killed by oxygen. They grow only in places with less oxygen than the amount in the atmosphere. Freezing reduces the number of Campylobacter bacteria on raw meat. The bacteria may therefore grow and accumulate in contaminated food stored in the refrigerator. So it is not surprising that listeriosis is usually associated with ingestion of milk, meat or vegetable products that have been held at refrigeration temperatures for a long period of time.

4. Food involved

The highest incidences being found in meat, poultry, seafood products, raw milk, supposedly pasteurized fluid milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened varieties), ice cream, raw vegetables, fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry, raw meats (all types), and raw and smoked fish. Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. 

5. Preventives Measures

  • Campylobacter jejuni and can be resistant to the effects of freezing, drying, and heat
  •  Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before     eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should still be washed first
  • Scrub  produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  •  Be aware that  can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance  thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
  •  Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat    packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.
  •  Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.
  • Cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
  •  Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal      temperature. Store foods safely.
  •  Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the    refrigerator beyond the use-by date; follow USDA refrigerator storage time guidelines:
  •  Hot Dogs – store opened package no longer than 1 week and unopened package no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Luncheon and Deli Meat – store factory-sealed, unopened package no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them

6. Treatment–

Almost all persons infected with Campylobacter recover without any specific treatment. Patients should drink extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts. 




Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites, Cryptosporidium, that can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal.

1. Incubation period- 

2 to 10 days.

2. Symptoms-

The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea, Stomach cramps or pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever, weight loss. Some people with Crypto will have no symptoms at all.

3. Cause

Crypto can be spread:

  • By putting something in your mouth or accidentally swallowing something that has come int contact with stool of a person or animal infected with Crypto.
  • By touching your mouth with contaminated hands.
  • By swallowing recreational water contaminated with Crypto. Recreational water is water in            swimming pools, hot tubs, jacuzzi, fountains, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds, or streams. Recreational   water can be contaminated with sewage or feces from humans or animals
  • By eating uncooked food contaminated with Crypto.
  • Thoroughly wash with uncontaminated water   all vegetables and fruits you plan to eat.
  • Hands can become contaminated through a variety of activities, such as touching surfaces (e.g., toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) that have been contaminated by stool from an infected person, changing diapers, caring for an infected person, changing diapers, caring for an infected person, and handling an infected cow or calf.
  • By exposure to human feces through sexual contact.

4. Food involved

Cryptosporidium may be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces from infected humans or animals.

5. Preventives

  • Measures Cryptosporidium can be very contagious.
  •  Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, after changing     diapers, and before eating or preparing food
  •  Do not swim in recreational water (pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.) if you have cryptosporidiosis and for at least 2 weeks after the diarrhea stops. Note: You may not be protected in a chlorinated recreational water venue e.g., swimming pool, water park, splash pad, spray park) because Cryptosporidium is chlorine-resistant and can live for days in chlorine-treated water.
  • Avoid sexual practices that might result in oral exposure to stool (e.g., oral-anal contact).
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a weakened immune system.
  • Children with diarrhea should be excluded from child care settings until the diarrhea has stopped.

6. Treatments-

  • Most people who have healthy immune systems will recover without treatment.People who are in poor health or who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk for more severe and prolonged illness.
  • Young children and pregnant women may be more susceptible to dehydration resulting from diarrhea and should drink plenty of fluids while ill.
  • Diarrhea can be managed by drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.  Rapid loss of fluids from diarrhea may be especially life threatening to babies. Therefore, parents should talk to their health care providers about fluid replacement therapy options for infants.



Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause inflammation of the stomach and large intestine lining; they are the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.

1. Incubation– period-

1 to 2 days.Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.

2. Symptoms

Include nausea, vomiting (more often in children), watery diarrhea (more often in adults), and stomach cramps.If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill and throw up or have diarrhea many times a day. This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses.

3. Cause-

People become infected with noroviruses when they eat food or drink liquids that have been contaminated; raw or undercooked oysters and raw fruits and vegetables have been implicated in some outbreaks.

4. Food involved

Any food or drink that have been contaminated; raw or undercooked oysters and raw fruits and vegetables have been implicated in some outbreaks.

5. Preventives Measures-

  • Good hygiene is the key to preventing an infection with norovirus, especially when you are in close surroundings with a lot of other people
  • If you have norovirus, don’t prepare food for at least two to three days after you feel better. Try not to eat food that has been prepared by someone else who is sick.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool.
  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000–5000 ppm (5–25 tablespoons of household bleach [5.25%] per gallon of water) or other disinfectant.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly.