What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is a condition that happens when you ingest food or drinks that contains harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, or protozoans. Regardless, there are many ways to cure the condition. Herbs and natural remedies such as garlic and ginger can help cure food poisoning at home. Many over-the-counter medications such as loperamide can alleviate the symptoms. However, some cases may necessitate the need for antibiotics and even hospitalisation.

What Causes Food Poisoning?

As stated above, food poisoning is a condition that occurs when an individual’s gastrointestinal tract is infected by pathogens. Common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever. In some extreme cases, toxins can affect parts of large intestine, which may lead to bloody, mucousy diarrhoea.These pathogens include bacteria, viruses, or even parasites that enter the body through:

  • Spoilt food – When food becomes spoiled, it is more likely to contain pathogens that are and potentially cause food poisoning.
  • Raw/undercooked meat, seafood, poultry – Raw or undercooked meat is dangerous for consumption because the bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses can be present on the surface of these products.
  • Unpasteurised milk and dairy products – Unpasteurised milk and dairy products can cause food poisoning as bacteria may be present in raw milk. These bacteria can also live on surfaces of containers and utensils, on hands, people’s clothes, hair and skin.
  • Improper hygiene – Improper hygiene practices can lead to cross-contamination, which can eventually cause food poisoning.

How to Avoid Foodborne Illness

It is not always possible to avoid all risks of contracting food-borne illness. However, following a few simple steps can reduce the odds of your food poisoning or other illness:

  • Before eating, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly – Washing your hands is an important step in preventing the spread of illness. Hand washing can help reduce your risk of getting sick by 75%.
  • Avoid raw foods that are not cooked to the right temperature – If you are unsure, err on the side of caution by not consuming any raw or undercooked foods.
  • Wash small items like cutting boards and knives with soap and water after each use – Cleaning with soap and water will help remove any microbes or chemicals that might cause illnesses.
  • Clean countertops and utensils regularly – If you don’t clean or sanitise your countertops and utensils regularly, the risk for food poisoning and other bacteria exposure increases significantly.
  • Use separate utensils for raw meat and vegetable – In the age of food-safety concerns, it is recommended to use separate utensils for raw meat and vegetable dishes. This practice can help prevent cross-contamination of bacteria.
  • Inspect food for spoilage – Food spoils when it is not consumed in time. It is important to inspect food for spoilage before you eat it. If the food is spoiled, discard it.


Food poisoning is a serious and common health issue that impacts millions of people across the world. It can begin with a simple case of food poisoning and quickly escalate to a life-threatening situation. Even though we think we know how to prevent it, we often fail to do so. However, using common sense and good hygiene practices can help prevent food poisoning. Explore other fascinating topics from Classification of Joints and human skeletal system to plant life and photosynthesis, only on BYJU’S Biology.


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