What is food poisoning?
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
How soon after eating contaminated food do symptoms occur?
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.
Who is most vulnerable to food-related illness?
People who are most vulnerable to food-related illness are infants
and young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune
4 STEPS TO FOOD SAFETY
Here are four simple steps for food safety:
- Clean - Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot
soapy water before and after food preparation, and especially after
preparing meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood.
- Separate - Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood
and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods; never place cooked
food on an unwashed plate that previously held raw meat, poultry,
eggs, or seafood.
- Cook - Cook food to the proper internal temperature
(this varies for different cuts and types of meat and poultry) and
check for doneness with a food thermometer. Cook eggs until both yolk
and white are firm.
- Chill - Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared
food, and leftovers within 2 hours and make sure that the
refrigerator temperature is set no higher than 40° F and the freezer
temperature is 0° F.
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 8:20:46 AM