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Home Health Disease Health Food Poisoning
About Food Poisoning

Causes

Food poisoning can affect one person or a group of people who all ate the same food. It is more common after eating at picnics, school cafeterias, large social functions, or restaurants.

When germs get into the food, it is called contamination. This can happen in different ways:

Meat or poultry can come into contact with bacteria from the intestines of an animal that is being processed.
Water that is used during growing or shipping can contain animal or human waste.
Food may be handled in an unsafe way during preparation in grocery stores, restaurants, or homes.

Food poisoning can occur after eating or drinking:

Any food prepared by someone who does not wash their hands properly
Any food prepared using cooking utensils, cutting boards, and other tools that are not fully cleaned
Dairy products or food containing mayonnaise (such as coleslaw or potato salad) that have been out of the refrigerator too long
Frozen or refrigerated foods that are not stored at the proper temperature or are not reheated to the right temperature
Raw fish or oysters
Raw fruits or vegetables that have not been washed well
Raw vegetables or fruit juices and dairy products (look for the word "pasteurized," which means the food has been treated to prevent contamination)
Undercooked meats or eggs
Water from a well or stream, or city or town water that has not been treated

Infants and elderly people are at the greatest risk for food poisoning. You are also at higher risk if:

You have a serious medical condition, such as kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, or HIV and/or AIDS.
You have a weakened immune system.
You travel outside of the United States to areas where you are exposed to germs that cause food poisoning.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should use extra care to avoid food poisoning

Foodborne illness (also foodborne disease and colloquially referred to as food poisoning)is any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food,as well as chemical or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms.

Causes

Foodborne illness usually arises from improper handling, preparation, or food storage. Good hygiene practices before, during, and after food preparation can reduce the chances of contracting an illness. There is a consensus in the public health community that regular hand-washing is one of the most effective defenses against the spread of foodborne illness. The action of monitoring food to ensure that it will not cause foodborne illness is known as food safety. Foodborne disease can also be caused by a large variety of toxins that affect the environment. For foodborne illness caused by chemicals, see Food contaminants.

Bacteria

Bacteria are a common cause of foodborne illness. In the United Kingdom during 2000, the individual bacteria involved were the following: Campylobacter jejuni 77.3%, Salmonella 20.9%, Escherichia coli O157:H7 1.4%, and all others less than 0.56%.

Enterotoxins

In addition to disease caused by direct bacterial infection, some foodborne illnesses are caused by a enterotoxins (an exotoxin targeting the intestines). Enterotoxins can produce illness even when the microbes that produced them have been killed. Symptom appearance varies with the toxin but may be rapid on-set, as in the case of enterotoxins of Staphylococcus aureus in which symptoms appear in 1–6 hours.

Infectious dose

The infectious dose is the amount of agent that must be consumed to give rise to symptoms of foodborne illness, and varies according to the agent and the consumer's age and overall health. In the case of Salmonella a relatively large inoculum of 1 million to 1 billion organisms is necessary to produce symptoms in healthy human volunteers, as Salmonellae are very sensitive to acid.

United States

In the United States, using FoodNet data from 2000–2007, the CDCP estimated there were 47.8 million foodborne illnesses per year (16,000 cases for 100,000 inhabitants) with 9.4 million of these caused by 31 known identified pathogens

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