less than 1 minute read

Food poisoning

Food poisoning, disease resulting from ingestion of unwholesome food, usually resulting in colic, vomiting, diarrhea, and general malaise. While a number of viruses, contaminants, and irritant and allergic factors may play a part, 3 specific microorganisms are commonly responsible: Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and Salmonella bacteria. Inadequate cooking, allowing cooked food to stand for long periods in warm conditions, and contamination of cooked and uncooked food by bacteria from humans are usual causes. Staphylococci may be introduced from a boil or from the nose of a food handler; they produce a toxin if allowed to grow in cooked food. Sudden vomiting and abdominal pain occur 2 to 6 hours after eating. Clostridium poisoning causes colic and diarrhea 10 to 12 hours after ingestion of contaminated meat. Salmonella enteritis causes colic, diarrhea, vomiting, and often fever, starting 12 to 24 hours after eating; poultry and human carriers are the usual sources. Botulism, caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium bacteria, is an often fatal form of food poisoning. In general, food poisoning is mild and of limited duration, and only the treatment of symptoms is needed; antibiotics rarely help.

Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Federalist, The to Forensic science