Preventing Foodborne Illness

Don't let food poisoning ruin your summer! Follow the tips below to prevent foodborne illness.


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What IS food poisoning?

 Food poisoning, a type of foodborne illness, is a sickness people get from something they ate or drank. The causes are germs or other harmful things in the food or beverage.  The term "food poisoning" is commonly used to describe all foodborne illnesses. A health care provider might use these terms to be more specific:

  • "Foodborne illnesses" means all illnesses from any contaminated food or beverage.
  • "Food poisoning" means illness specifically from a toxin in food. Food poisoning is a type of foodborne illness.

What causes food poisoning? 

Many germs or harmful things, called contaminants, can cause foodborne illnesses. Food or drink that carries a contaminant is called "contaminated." Food can be contaminated with any of the following:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites that can live in the intestines
  • Poisons, also called toxins
  • Bacteria that carry or make toxins
  • Molds that make toxins

How are the symptoms of food poisoning?

 Symptoms vary depending on what is causing the illness. They may begin within a few hours or a few weeks depending on the cause. Common symptoms are:

  • Upset stomach.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Diarrhea with bloody stools.
  • Stomach pain and cramps.
  • Fever.
  • Headache.

Less often food poisoning affects the nervous system and can cause severe disease. Symptoms may include:

  • Blurred or double vision.
  • Headache.
  • Loss of movement in limbs.
  • Problems with swallowing.
  • Tingling or numbness of skin.
  • Weakness.
  • Changes in sound of the voice.

Visit this link for more info on symptoms and when to seek medical help.

How is food poisoning different from a stomach virus? 

The stomach virus (often called the "stomach flu") is very common. Like many viruses, it’s passed around by groups of people gathering together in close quarters. Food poisoning comes from bacteria that could grow in food that wasn’t cooked properly or in food that’s been sitting out too long without being refrigerated.  Symptoms are very similar, so the best way to tell is by  looking at when your symptoms start after you’ve been exposed, and how long your symptoms last. Visit this link for more details. 

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