Food Poisoning Patient Information Fact Sheet

What causes food poisoning?
Raw produce or food that is not properly cooked can cause foodborne illness.  These foods can be contaminated with bacteria and viruses (Norovirus, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Staphylococcus or E. coli), parasites (Toxoplasma gondii), mold, or contain toxins (pesticides, mushroom toxin). An estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness occur annually in the United States.

How do I get food poisoning?
Food poisoning may occur from consuming:

  • Raw fishes or oysters
  • Undercooked meats or eggs
  • Any food prepared using cooking utensils, cutting boards and other tools that are not fully cleaned
  • Water from a well or stream, or city or town water that has not been treated
  • Dairy products or food containing mayonnaise (eg, coleslaw or potato salad) that have been out of the refrigerator for too long

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?
Symptoms of food poisoning range from diarrhea to long-term health problems or even death. Common symptoms include nausea and vomiting, dehydration, watery, non-bloody diarrhea, fever, upset stomach and abdominal cramps. In most cases, symptoms go away on their own within 2–3 days. Contact your health care provider if the following occurs as your infection may be serious:

  • Diarrhea along with high fever ( > 101.5°F)
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unable to rehydrate because of consistent vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration (decrease in urination, dry mouth, and feeling dizzy when standing up, or having diarrhea for more than 3 days)