What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is a term that refers to a variety of foodborne illnesses. The problem is not that a person has been fatally poisoned, but rather that a person has eaten a food or drink that contains a bacterium or virus capable of producing illness. In most cases of foodborne illness, symptoms resemble those of an intestinal flu and last a few hours to several days. But in cases of botulism, or when food poisoning strikes infants, the ill, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, life-threatening complications can result. If you suspect a life-threatening illness, call 911 for emergency medical treatment.
The bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illness are everywhere -- in the air, soil, water and in human and animal digestive tracts. Most are capable of growing undetected in food because they do not produce any telltale odor, color or texture. The only way these microorganisms can be prevented from causing human illness is by handling and storing food safely.