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Foodborne Illness

Also called: Food Poisoning

Summary

Each year, around 48 million people in the United States get sick from contaminated food. Common causes include bacteria and viruses. Less often, the cause may be a parasite or a harmful chemical, such as a high amount of pesticides. Symptoms of foodborne illness depend on the cause. They can be mild or serious. They usually include

Most foodborne illnesses are acute. This means that they happen suddenly and last a short time.

It takes several steps to get food from the farm or fishery to your dining table. Contamination can happen during any of these steps. For example, it can happen to

  • Raw meat during slaughter
  • Fruits and vegetables when they are growing or when they are processed
  • Refrigerated foods when they are left on a loading dock in warm weather

But it can also happen in your kitchen if you leave food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Handling food safely can help prevent foodborne illnesses.

Most people with foodborne illness get better on their own. It is important to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. If your health care provider can diagnose the specific cause, you may get medicines such as antibiotics to treat it. For more serious illness, you may need treatment at a hospital.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Start Here

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • (Food and Drug Administration) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) Also in

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Bacteria Culture Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Prevention and Risk Factors

Related Issues

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Department of Health and Human Services) Also in

Specifics

  • (National Office for Marine Biotoxins and Harmful Algal Blooms)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • (National Office for Marine Biotoxins and Harmful Algal Blooms)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • (Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Images

  • (Partnership for Food Safety Education) - PDF

Videos and Tutorials

  • Interactive Tutorial (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Maryland Public Television)

Games

  • (Partnership for Food Safety Education) Also in

Statistics and Research

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation)

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (Nemours Foundation)

Women

  • (March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation) Also in

Patient Handouts

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