Table of Contents
Definition of Foodborne Illnesses and Symptoms
Foodborne illnesses – Diseases resulting from consumption of foods contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses. Foodborne illnesses, also called food poisoning, are common, affecting 76 million Americans each year.
There are several hundred known foodborne illnesses, most of which cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Illness results from consuming a food contaminated with pathogens. Common sources include undercooked meats and cooked foods that remain at room temperature for longer than two hours. Most often, it is not possible to tell from taste, smell, or appearance that a food contains pathogens.
Preventing Foodborne Illness
Prevention is the primary focus when it comes to foodborne illnesses. The simple measure of washing the hands before and after preparing foods, eating meals, changing diapers, and using the bathroom could eliminate many foodborne illnesses by preventing bacteria and other pathogens from contact with foods. Other food safety measures to reduce the risk for infection from foodborne pathogens include
- using separate utensils and surfaces for meats and for other foods
- washing fruits and vegetables, including “rind” fruits such as oranges and watermelon, in running water before eating or preparing them
- thoroughly cooking all animal-based foods (including eggs), to 160ºF for most meats and poultry (no pink in the flesh)
- prompt refrigeration of leftover foods
Supportive Treatment of Foodborne Illnesses
Most foodborne illnesses are self-limiting; the infection runs its course (usually within three to five days) and the person fully recovers without medical treatment. Supportive treatment such as adequate fluid intake is important to prevent dehydration; soups and juices also help maintain nutrition.
Doctors often discourage people from taking antidiarrheal medications that work by slowing gastrointestinal motility, such as loperamide or diphenoxylate, because these drugs may prolong the illness by prolonging the presence of the pathogen in the gastrointestinal tract.
Some foodborne illnesses need prompt medical treatment, such as botulism. Most of parasitic and bacterial infections require appropriate medications.
Types of Foodborne Illnesses
|campylobacteriosis||Escherichia coli infection|
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