Food poisoning: Common causes and likely symptoms

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Food poisoning: Common causes and likely symptoms

Food poisoning — Learn about common causes and signs and symptoms of food poisoning.

Most foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria that pose no harm to people. But when food is poorly handled, improperly cooked or inadequately stored, bacteria can multiply quickly and cause food poisoning.

Here are foods that are most susceptible to bacterial contamination and tips for lowering your risk of food poisoning.

Food Possible contaminants Signs and symptoms Prevention
Undercooked meat and poultry Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157:H7, salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever Cook meat and poultry thoroughly. Wash knives and cutting surfaces with hot, soapy water after contact with raw meat or poultry. Don't let raw meat drip on or touch other foods.
Raw (unpasteurized) milk and soft cheeses Campylobacter jejuni, salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, shigella Abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and fever Don't drink unpasteurized milk or dairy products.
Raw or undercooked eggs Salmonella Abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and fever Don't eat raw or undercooked eggs or foods that may contain them, such as cookie dough, cake batter and homemade ice cream.
Prepared salads (egg, tuna, chicken, potato and macaroni), cream sauces, and cream-filled pastries and pies Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus Abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, headache and weakness Don't leave high-risk foods at room temperature for more than two hours, or above 90 F for more than one hour.
Raw oysters or undercooked mussels, clams, and whole scallops and other raw seafood Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Listeria monocytogenes, salmonella Chills, fever, skin lesions, diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting Don't eat raw oysters. Make sure all fish and shellfish are thoroughly cooked.
Fresh or minimally processed produce Escherichia coli O157:H7, salmonella, shigella, Listeria monocytogenes, Giardia intestinalis Abdominal cramps, gas, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

Last Updated: 06/06/2006
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