Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling - Topic Overview
This topic is about many different types of
food poisoning. You can also see the topics
E. Coli Infection and
Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.
Food poisoning is an
illness caused by eating foods that have harmful organisms in them. These
harmful germs can include bacteria,
viruses. They are mostly found in raw meat, chicken,
fish, and eggs, but they can spread to any type of food. They can also grow on
food that is left out on counters or outdoors or is stored too long before you
eat it. Sometimes food poisoning happens when people don't wash their hands
before they touch food.
Most of the time, food poisoning is mild
and goes away after a few days. All you can do is wait for your body to get rid
of the germ that is causing the illness. But some types of food poisoning may
be more serious, and you may need to see a doctor.
The first symptom of
food poisoning is usually diarrhea. You may also feel sick to your stomach,
vomit, or have stomach cramps. Some food poisoning can cause a high fever and blood in your stool. How you feel when you have food poisoning mostly
depends on how healthy you are and what germ is making you sick.
If you vomit or have diarrhea a lot, you can get
dehydrated. Dehydration means that your body has lost
too much fluid.
Germs can get into food when:
Meat is processed. It is normal to find
bacteria in the intestines of healthy animals that we use for food. Sometimes
the bacteria get mixed up with the parts of those animals that we eat.
The food is watered or washed. If the water used to irrigate or
wash fresh fruits and vegetables has germs from animal manure or human sewage
in it, those germs can get on the fruits and vegetables.
is prepared. When someone who has germs on his or her hands touches the food,
or if the food touches other food that has germs on it, the germs can spread.
For example, if you use the same cutting board for chopping vegetables and
preparing raw meat, germs from the raw meat can get on the vegetables.
Because most food poisoning is mild and goes
away after a few days, most people don't go to the doctor. You can usually
assume that you have food poisoning if other people who ate the same food also
If you think you have food poisoning, call your local
health department to report it. This could help keep others from getting sick.