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What is food poisoning

What is food poisoning and how you can get it

Food poisoning is common, costly and preventable. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food every year.

It can happen after food has been adulterated with physical, chemical and biological contaminants -- or any combination of those. Physical can include such products as rubber or glass; chemical can include such toxins as bleach and mercury; and biological can include many types of bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Food can be contaminated before it reaches a grocery store or home kitchen, and sometimes those who prepare food at a restaurant can pass along norovirus – the germ that is the leading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks worldwide.  

Examples of contamination in preparation

  • If a food worker stays on the job while sick and does not wash his or her hands carefully, the food worker can spread germs by touching food.
  • If a cook uses a cutting board or knife to cut raw chicken and then uses the same items somewhere else in the kitchen, other food could be contaminated by germs from the chicken.
  • Contamination can occur in a refrigerator if liquids from meat or chicken get on items that will be eaten raw.

 

Mishandling at multiple points

Food can be mishandled in several ways along the food production chain. Once contamination occurs, further mishandling, such as undercooking the food or leaving it out on the counter at an unsafe temperature, can make a foodborne illness more likely. Many germs grow quickly in food held at room temperature; a tiny number can grow to a large number in just a few hours. Reheating or boiling food after it has been left at room temperature for a long time does not always make it safe because some germs produce toxins that are not destroyed by heat.

 

How to tell if you have food poisoning?

Food poisoning signs and symptoms may range from mild to severe and can differ significantly depending of the contaminant, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most common ways on how to know if you have food poisoning are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

After you consume a contaminated food or drink -- especially if it is a chemical contaminant -- you may show symptoms of poisoning immediately. With some biological contaminants, it may take hours or days before you develop symptoms of food poisoning.

 

What causes food poisoning?

Food can be mishandled in several ways along the food production chain, all of which can result in food poisoning. Once contamination occurs, further mishandling, such as undercooking the food or leaving it out on the counter at an unsafe temperature, can make a foodborne illness more likely. Many germs grow quickly in food held at room temperature; a tiny number can grow to a large number in just a few hours. Reheating or boiling food after it has been left at room temperature for a long time does not always make it safe because some germs produce toxins that are not destroyed by heat.

  • If a food worker stays on the job while sick and does not wash his or her hands carefully, the food worker can spread germs by touching food.
  • If a cook uses a cutting board or knife to cut raw chicken and then uses the same items somewhere else in the kitchen, other food could be contaminated by germs from the chicken.
  • Contamination can occur in a refrigerator if liquids from meat or chicken get on items that will be eaten raw.

 

For more information about:

Recalled Food

If you have food poisoning and want to check recently recalled foods, please visit these pages:

Recalls by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Recalls by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Current Multistate Food Poisoning Outbreaks

Here is a list of current multistate foodborne illness outbreaks.

When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne or food poisoning outbreak. Reporting illnesses to your local health department helps them identify potential outbreaks of foodborne disease. Public health officials investigate outbreaks to control them, so more people do not get sick in the outbreak, and to learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.

Back to Learn

Recent Interesting Reports

Chick-fil-A, North Federal Highway, Pompano Beach, Florida, USA

Report Type: Food Safety
Symptoms: Nausea
“I am completely appalled! I have eaten it for years now, never in my life have I experienced something like this. This chicken is raw, uncooked. I am now even feeling nauseous praying it isn’t food poisoning! I expected better from them”
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
Helpful

Little Caesars Pizza, Tulare Street, Fresno, CA, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Fever Vomiting
“I ate two slices of pizza the day before yesterday and today I’ve been vomiting all day. Anything I eat I vomit right up. I have stomach cramps and got a fever. Also my little brother got sick right after he ate the pizza but mine was a day after... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Java Kava, South Loudoun Street, Winchester, VA, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea
“I went on Sunday, October 6th, with three of my friends. We all tried the Kava along with some other beverages. We've had explosive diarrhea for the past week and are barely recovering just now. We all had our symptoms start at the exact same time, and just met up... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Budapest, W35 BURGER BAR BUDAPEST, Teréz körút, Hungary

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Fever Vomiting
“My friends and I visited on September 14th,2019 for dinner around 9PM. We all ate cheeseburgers and fries. Two of us ordered the lemonades. Around 4:00 AM, we all woke up with stomach pains. We all experienced nausea and diarrhea for several hours. One of us had vomiting several times.”
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
Helpful
|1 person found this review helpful

Kassi Club, West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Fever Nausea
“On Sept 16,2019 I dined with a group of girlfriends. The food was not good and we found a piece of plastic in our salad. I just figured it was another typical LA establishment that was overpriced for gross food. Never planned on returning.
I’m the middle of the night... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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El Gato Negro, Harrison Avenue, New Orleans, LA, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Nausea Vomiting
“I went this Friday Sept. 13th, and Saturday morning I woke up with Nausea, diarrhea, & chills! I ate chicken quesadillas, & I did notice the chicken maybe a bit off.. it tasted Raw on a few bites, & I also ate a queso dip they use as appetizers, one... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
Helpful
|2 people found this review helpful

Domino's Pizza, Plains Road, Nottingham, UK

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Fever Vomiting
Chicken kickers and cheese Tom pizza with extra topping of pepperoni. Woke after 3 am with stomach cramps and diahorrea then again at 5. When got up from work very dizzy. Drove half way and had to turn back after vomitted. In bed after 3 hours and feel drained and... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
Helpful

Woolworths Balwyn, Balwyn VIC, Australia

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Nausea Vomiting
“I bought English ham Riverland brand think was $2. The use by date I checked was 08/11/2019 bought it today 6/10/19
And ate after few hours I’m about to eat some leftover I found out it was full of little brown maggots all over it then quickly took it in... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
Helpful

Captain D's, 514 16th St S, Birmingham, AL 35233, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Nausea Vomiting
“This fast food restaurant, It started with the skin coming off the roof of my mouth and hanging. Burning and bleeding. After that within 5 minutes or so I started throwing up violently 3 times. The last two times I urinated all over myself as I was throwing up it... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Trader Joe's, Peyton Drive, Chino Hills, CA, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Nausea Vomiting
“My 2 daughters and I ate Organic fish nuggets and the Spaghetti Squash Casserole. One daughter did not eat the squash, and my other daughter and I did eat it. Within an hour, and for several hours after....stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. It had to be the squash =... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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