Foodborne Illness overview

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Foodborne illness (also foodborne disease) is any illness resulting from the consumption of food. Although foodborne illness is commonly called food poisoning, this is often a misnomer. True food poisoning occurs when a person ingests a contaminating chemical or a naturaltoxin, while most cases of foodborne illness are actually food infection caused by a variety of foodborne pathogenicbacteria, viruses, prions or parasites.[1] Such contamination usually arises from improper handling, preparation, or food storage. Good hygiene practices before, during, and after food preparation can reduce the chances of contracting an illness. The action of monitoring food to ensure that it will not cause foodborne illness is known as food safety. Foodborne disease can also be caused by a large variety of toxins that affect the environment. For foodborne illness caused by chemicals, see Food contaminants.

Foodborne illness can also be caused by the presence of pesticides or medicines in food, or by unintentionally consuming naturally toxic substances like poisonous mushrooms or reef fish.