Think You Have Food Poisoning? Here's What You Should Do

The saying “having your cake and eating it too” resonates with many people—of course we all want to be able to eat our cake! You also don’t want the cake to make you sick, right?!

Getting sick from eating or drinking contaminated foods or beverages is something that all of us want to avoid as we enjoy our daily meals, snacks and drinks. However, foodborne illnesses, colloquially referred to as food poisoning, have affected most of us at some point. Foodborne illnesses are caused by microbes or harmful chemicals (toxins) present in food or beverages. Fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and drinking water are among the top items that can harbor the microbes that lead to foodborne illnesses or “food poisoning.”

Foodborne illness is a global issue that affects a significant number of people. The World Health Organization estimates that globally 600 million people—almost one in 10 people in the world—get sick after consuming contaminated food and beverages every year. Notably, in some instances, foodborne illness can be quite serious. First alert symptoms include stomach pains and/or nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect you have gotten sick from something you ate, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

But there is hope! There are ways to stay clear of getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stresses that clean food handling and preparation, proper storage, and cooking are all important in avoiding foodborne illness, and consumers and meal preparers should be diligent in each of these areas to ensure food safety.

For more information on what causes foodborne illness and how to avoid it, check out these IFIC resources on microbial contaminants and food safety basics.