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Watch Out: Food Poisoning Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

    Watch Out: Food Poisoning Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

    Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is a condition caused by consuming food contaminated with bacteria, germs, viruses, and parasites. Most cases of food poisoning are caused by two common bacteria: salmonella and E. coli. It can happen to anyone, so knowing all about food poisoning causes, symptoms, and remedies is vital in order to address it immediately.

    Most cases of food poisoning involve infants, children, and people taking medications, as they are more prone to being food poisoned. Ways to avoid and treat this condition must be learned as some cases of food poisoning can be fatal. Learn about food poisoning causes, symptoms, and remedies in this article.

    Food Poisoning Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

    Food poisoning can be caused by any of the following:

    Biological Hazards

    This includes bacteria, viruses, and parasites, such as salmonella and E. coli. Biological hazards may be acquired from food mishandling, such as stocking food for too long, or at the wrong temperatures. These are the most common considered threats to food safety.

    Chemical Hazards

    This includes toxins and chemical contaminants. Some foods have natural toxins, such as certain mushrooms and shellfish. Chemical contaminants like condiments and food cleaners can also be hazardous for some people if not used properly. Food allergens are also considered chemical hazards.

    Physical Hazards

    Shavings from cans, plastics, or broken glass that can be mixed with food are examples of physical hazards.


    Symptoms of foodborne illness may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the bacteria present in a food item. However, the most common symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever, headache, nausea, serious weakness, and diarrhea that can be watery, and bloody at times.

    Food Poisoning Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies: Types of Food Poisoning

    Food poisoning has many types, but these are the most common foodborne illnesses. These are mostly acquired from pathogens.

    E. coli

    This is a bacteria that commonly cause foodborne illnesses. While it is a harmless bacterium, it can still lead to severe complications like bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and death.


    In the United States, this bacterium causes an estimated 1.2 million illnesses, with almost 450 deaths, each year. Salmonella can contaminate any food item, including meat, eggs, cheese, and raw foods. However, salmonella is easily killed by cooking and pasteurization. Salmonella may also spread to pets through pet food.


    This virus is common in restaurant food as it easily survives both hot and freezing temperatures. The transmission of this virus may be done directly to other people or through shared utensils or food.

    Clostridium Perfringens

    It causes an estimated 1 million illnesses a year. Like Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens can be killed through cooking. However, if the food is not cooked with enough high temperature, the bacteria will still grow.


    Cases of illness caused by campylobacter reach 1.3 million a year. Eating raw foods, raw milk, and uncooked poultry food are the common causes of acquiring campylobacter.


    Listeria is a name for bacteria found in soil, water, and animals. It is a lethal pathogen which causes more than 250 deaths a year. It also survives in cold temperatures. Getting rid of listeria can be done by cooking and pasteurization of a food item.

    Food Poisoning Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies: How to Prevent Food Poisoning

    Here are some ways to prevent foodborne illnesses:

    E. Coli

    When eating with other people, avoid sharing utensils and food. It is also important to practice proper hygiene, like washing hands thoroughly before and after eating.


    Avoid eating raw eggs, undercooked beef or poultry, and unpasteurized milk. Use separate containers, utensils, and separate refrigerator storage for meats and produce. Before and after preparing food, wash your hands using warm water and soap.


    Wash hands for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing food. Make sure that the equipment used for cooking is properly disinfected before and after use. Cook food thoroughly, especially food containing oysters and shellfish.

    Clostridium Perfringens

    Cook food thoroughly. Serve the food right after it is cooked. Food should be eaten within two hours. If unfinished, leftovers must be refrigerated immediately in a different container.

    Campylobacter and Listeria

    Avoid eating too many dairy products. Rinse raw foods thoroughly before cooking. Use separate cooking equipment for meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. In storing food, separate the containers for uncooked food and ready-to-eat food. Avoid drinking untreated water from rivers, ponds, and lakes to avoid campylobacter.


    Replacement of Lost Fluids

    Diarrhea is one of the symptoms of food poisoning. Maintaining fluids and minerals, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium, in the body is important. Adults and children with persistent diarrhea are treated with intravenous fluids to address dehydration.


    Severe symptoms can be treated by antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment can also help prevent passing an infection on to a baby during pregnancy.

    Key Takeaways

    Food poisoning comes from eating contaminated food or drinks. The most common cause of foodborne illnesses and infections are bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli. However, these can be avoided through proper hygiene, cooking, and storage procedures. It is important to discuss food poisoning causes, symptoms, and remedies to spread awareness.

    Learn more about Infectious Diseases here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


    6 Common Foodborne Illnesses & How to Prevent Them, https://www.hawaiipacifichealth.org/healthier-hawaii/safety-corner/6-common-foodborne-illnesses-how-to-prevent-them/

    Accessed January 30, 2021


    Food Poisoning, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001652.htm

    Accessed January 30, 2021


    Food Poisoning, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356236

    Accessed January 30, 2021


    Food Poisoning Symptoms, https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/symptoms.html

    Accessed January 30, 2021


    Causes and Prevention of Foodborne Illness, https://web.uri.edu/foodsafety/cause-and-prevention-of-foodborne-illness/

    Accessed January 30, 2021

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    Written by Shienna Santelices Updated Jan 14
    Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD
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