What is food poisoning?

What is food poisoning?



The Government of Canada estimates that there are about 4 million cases of foodborne poisoning (also known as foodborne illness or food-related illness) in Canada every year.

The   Federal government of United States estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually- the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Causes of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is caused by eating food that has been contaminated by the organisms like bacteria, viruses or parasites (foodborne pathogens).Food can become contaminated by these microorganisms at any time before you eat it, including at home during handling, storing & cooking which can make you sick. Some people can have the foodborne illness and not even know they have it.



There are many signs of food poisoning, but most types cause one or more of the following:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain and cramps
  • fever and chills


symptoms can start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or sometimes not until days or even weeks later. Usually, people recover quickly and completely.

However, food poisoning sometimes causes serious complications, including death. While the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of serious consequences from most foodborne illnesses, some of the organisms pose grave threats to all persons.

You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you think you have a foodborne illness. Many foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following these safe food-handling practices: cook, clean, chill and separate.



  1. healthycanadians.gc.ca
  2. inspection.gc.ca
  3. fao.org

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