Food poisoning is a group of medical conditions that result from eating food that is contaminated with harmful bacteria or toxic poisons from bacteria. Bacteria are a part of all living things and are found on all raw agricultural products. Harmful bacteria can be transferred from food to people, from people to food, or from one food to another. Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature: As temperature rises, growth rate increases. Growth of most harmful bacteria in food can be slowed or stopped by refrigeration or freezing.
There are many forms of food-related illness. Food-related illness can produce symptoms (cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever) from mild to very serious, with illness occurring from 30 minutes to 2 weeks after eating food containing harmful bacteria.
People who are most vulnerable to food-related illness are infants and young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
4 STEPS TO FOOD SAFETY
Here are four simple steps for food safety:
The foregoing information is based on recommendations from the United States Food and Drug Administration (the FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the USDA), working with the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005