Food poisoning, also referred to as food-borne illness, is caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food. Infectious organisms including various bacteria, viruses and parasites are the most common cause of food poisoning. Harmful toxins and chemicals (noninfectious agents) also can cause illnesses.
Typically, food becomes contaminated as a result of improper food processing, handling, preparation and/or storage. According to the World Health Organization, there are around 76 million cases of food poisoning each year in the United States, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year.
What are the common types of food poisoning?
Salmonellosis has recently become a major problem in the United States. Salmonellosis is caused by the Salmonella bacteria and symptoms are fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Examples of foods involved in outbreaks of salmonellosis are tomatoes, eggs, poultry and other meats, raw milk and chocolate.
Campylobacteriosis is a widespread infection. It is caused by certain species of Campylobacter bacteria and the reported number of cases surpasses the incidence of salmonellosis. Food poisoning cases are mainly caused by foods such as raw milk, raw or undercooked poultry and drinking water. Acute health effects of campylobacteriosis include severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and diarrhea. In two to ten per cent of cases the infection may lead to chronic health problems, including reactive arthritis and neurological disorders.
Infections due to enterohaemorrhagic (causing intestinal bleeding) E. coli, and listeriosis are important food-borne diseases which have emerged over the last decades. Although their incidence is relatively low, their severe and sometimes fatal health consequences, particularly among infants, children and the elderly, make them among the most serious food-borne infections.
Common diseases that are occasionally food-borne, although usually transmitted by other routes, include infections caused by Shigella and Hepatitis A and by the parasites, Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidia.
If you or a family member is suffering or has suffered from food poisoning, and you would like to speak to a professional regarding your rights, please fill out the free case evaluation form and an experienced member of Seeger Weiss’s staff will contact you. Initial consultations are free of charge and do not create a legal relationship.