What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating spoiled or contaminated food. It is also called foodborne illness. Food can spoil when certain types of germs get into it. The germs can include bacteria, fungi and viruses.
You may not be able to tell by looking at or smelling the food that is has spoiled.
Here are some types of food poisoning that you may hear about:
E. coli (escherichia coli)
E. coli is a type of bacteria. Most E. coli are harmless, but some can make you sick. Harmful E. coli can sometimes be found on unwashed vegetables or in undercooked ground meat.
Listeria is a type of bacteria. It is most often found in raw vegetables, uncooked meat, hot dogs, deli meat and soft cheese. Listeria can make anyone sick, but it is even more dangerous for pregnant women, babies, older people or people who are already not very healthy.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria. It is most often found in water, eggs, chicken, turkey, and milk products, but it can also be found in other foods.
Some other food poisoning topics you may want to read about:
What are the symptoms of food poisoning?
Food poisoning can take anywhere from two hours to several days to make you sick. It can last up to 10 days.
Food poisoning can feel a lot like having the flu. It can make you:
- Feel sick to your stomach
- Have stomach cramps
- Throw up
- Have diarrhea
- Have a fever
What can you do?
If you think you have food poisoning, call us at 1-800-222-1222 or chat now. If you are throwing up a lot or have diarrhea, drink plenty of water.
Let your state health department know about your food poisoning:
- Maine: 1-800-821-5821
- New Hampshire: 1-603-271-4589
- Vermont: 1-800-439-8550
To prevent food poisoning:
- Wash your hands before and after touching food.
- Wash dishes, knives, cutting boards and other kitchen items before and after handling raw food.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
- Keep raw meat separate from other food.
- Cook meat, poultry and fish thoroughly. See our Safe Cooking Temperatures Table.
After cooking, put leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours.