What is Food Poisoning?

A health article about food poisoning from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

Food poisoning is an acute gastroenteritis caused by the consumption of a food material or a drink which contains a pathogenic micro-organism (which includes bacteria, viruses and parasites) or their toxins or from poisonous chemicals.


People commonly contract poisoning from food served in hostels, hotels, communal feedings, and festival seasons. The problem can also arise from improper food handling during food production processes and contamination can also occur in home settings in proper food handling and storage procedures are not employed.

The symptoms experienced with food poisoning vary depending on the type of food poisoning and the source of the contamination.

Types of food poisoning include:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Botulism
  • Staphylococcal
  • Shigella
  • Bacillus cereus
  • E. coli
  • Noroviris

Some of the common symptoms of Food Poisoning 

Normally in a food poisoning situation there will be a group of people who will be affected with similar symptoms. They will have a history of consuming of a common food with a few hours before the symptoms manifest themselves.

Some common bacterial food poisonings and their symptoms include:

1) Salmonella food poisoning:

There are three different varieties of salmonella bacteria.(salmonella typhimurium, salmonella cholera suis, salmonella enteritidis)

These bacteria are present in milk, milk products and eggs. 

Symptoms of this food poisoning include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.  Fever is also common.


2)  Campylobacter:

This form of food poisoning is generally contracted through contaminated water or food or unpasturized milk. It can also be come through contact with infected animals (both domestic and wild) or young children.

Campylobactercauses accute Diarrhea. Other symptoms are Nausea, Abdomial pain, Vomiting, Fever, and general lack of energy.

3) Botulism:

This is the dangerous type of food poisoning caused by clostridium botulinum.  

The spores of these organisms are seen in the soil and may enter the human body through pickles and canned fish etc

Compared to other food poisonings here vomiting and diarrhoea are rare Mainly the nervous system is affected.

The symptoms start with double vision, numbness with weakness.

Later there will be paralysis with cardiac and respiratory failure potentially ending in death.

4) Staphylococcal food poisoning:

It is caused by staphylo coccus aureus found in milk and milk products, meats, prepared salads, cream based dishes or personal hand contact, or coughing or sneezing. These organisms usually cause skin troubles like boils and eruptions.

It causes mastitis in cows..

Symptoms include: vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.


5) Shigella

Shigella is generally contracted through contact with faeces or contamination of food by an infected food handler.

It causes Dysentery which leads to sever diarrhoea and is more common in conditions of crowded population numbers with poor hygiene, often in warmer areas.

Symptoms include: Bloody Diarrhoea, Fever, Nausea, Vomiting, Cramps


6) Closteridium food poisoning:

This is caused by closteridium perfringens. They are present in faeces, soil and water.

They enter the body through, meat, meat dishes and egg etc

If food items are cooked and kept in room temperature for a long time, and then re-heated before eating, it can result this food poisoning.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

7) Bacillus cereus:

The spores of these organisms can survive cooking and causes enteritis. 

Symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting is common in this infection.



In many cases of food poisoning Gastritis may develop. For details about Gastritis check out AtoZ page: Gastritis.

Types of Food Poisoning

Types of food poisoning

1) Bacterial food poisoning:

Here the micro organisms called bacteria are responsible.

The food material may contain the pathogenic bacteria or their toxin and will be ingested along with the food.

2) Non bacterial food poisoning:

Due to the presence of toxic chemicals like fertilizers,insecticides,heavy metals etc.

What Causes Food Poisoning

Bacterial food poisoning:

All bacteria are not harmful.

There are some pathogenic bacteria which secrete toxins and cause clinical manifestations.

These organisms enter the human body through food articles or drinks.

How food poisoning occurs:

1) Presence of bacteria in the water.

2) The raw materials for the food may contain toxins. If these foods are not properly prepared then poisoning may occure

3) Premises where the food is prepared may contain micro organisms or toxins. This is why proper food handling proceedures must be maintained in the preparation of food for both immediate consumption or for packaged goods.

4) Food handlers may have some infectious diseases.

5) Some animals like dogs,rats may contaminate the food.

6) If prepared food is kept in the room temperature for a long time and reheated, or if food is not stored properly or is left for too long before cosuming it may lead to food poisoning.

Prevention of Food Poisoning

How to prevent food poisoning:-

1.    Only clean or purified water should be used in preparing food.

2.    Food from animal sources, be that meat, poultry or dairy, should be cooked thoroughly or pasteurized.

3.    Care must be taken to avoid cross contamination between uncooked meat and produce and cooked products that are to be served.

4.    Avoid eating raw meat that not be fresh or any food that is past its Use By date.

5.    Personal hygiene standards should be maintained by all individuals who have contact with food: Workers should wash hands before touching food and use masks, cap and gloves during cooking and serving.

6.    Individuals who are unwell, especially with symptoms of Diarrhoea or Vomiting should not come in contact with food materials.

7.    Kitchen and premises should be neat and clean.

8.    Cooking vessels should be washed thoroughly with soap and hot water.

9.    All food should be refrigerated or stored appropriately and must not be kept for extended periods at room temperature.

10. All food materials should be kept in closed containers.

11. Animals like dogs, cats, rats etc should not be in food preparation area and special care must be taken to wash hands thoroughly after contact with animals before handling food materials.

12. Vegetables should be washed thoroughly before cooking.

Self Care strategies for Food Poisoning

How to investigate food poisoning?

1) Examine each and every person affected.

2) Water sample should be tested.

3) Kitchen, store room and food samples should be examined.

4) The cook and food handlers should be questioned and examined.

5) Samples of vomitus and stool of all victims should be tested to identify the bacteria.

Using Ayurveda Therapy

The patient should undertake a fast in both acute and chronic cases of gastritis.

In acute cases, the patient will usually recover after a short fast of two or three days.

In chronic condition, the fast may have to be continued for a longer period of seven days or so.

In the alternative, short fasts may be repeated at an interval of one or two months, depending on the progress being made.

The fast may be conducted on fruit juices.

By fasting, the intake of irritants is at once effectively stopped, the stomach is rested and the toxic condition, causing the inflammation, is allowed to subside.

Elimination is increased by fasting and the excess of toxic matter accumulated in the system is thrown out.

After the acute symptoms subside, the patient should adopt an all-fruit diet for further three days.

Juicy fruits such as apple, pear, grapes, grapefruit, orange, pineapple, peach and melon may be taken during this period at five-hourly intervals.

The patient can thereafter gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of three basic food groups - seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables, and fruits

Upon arising : A glass of lukewarm water with freshly squeezed lemon and spoonful of honey.

Breakfast : Fresh fruits , such as apples, orange, banana, grapes, grapefruit or any available berries, a handful of raw nuts and a glass of milk.

Mid-morning snack : One apple, banana, or any other fruit.

Lunch : Steamed vegetables, two or three slickes of wholemeal bread or chappatis according to the appetite and a glass of butter milk. 

Mid-afternoon : A glass of fresh fruit or vegetable juice or sugarcane juice.

Dinner : A large bowl of fresh salad of green vegetables such as tomatoes,carrots, red beets, cabbage, cucumber with dressing of lemon juice and cold-pressed vegetable oil, all available sprouts such as alfalfa seeds mung beans, fresh butter and fresh home-made cottage cheese.

Bed time snacks : A glass of fresh milk or one apple.

The patient should avoid the use of alcohol, nicotine, spices, and condiments, flesh foods, chillies, sour things, pickles, strong tea and coffee. He should also avoid sweets, pastries, rich cakes and aerated waters. Curds and cottage cheese should be used freely.

Carrot juice in combination with the juice of spinach is considered highly beneficial in the treatment of gastritis.

200 ml. of spinach juice should be mixed with 300 ml. of carrot juice in this combination.

Too many different foods should not be mixed at the same meal. Meals should be taken at least two hours before going to bed at night.

Eight to 10 glasses of water should be taken daily but water should not be taken with meals as it dilutes the digestive juices and delays digestion.

And above all, haste should be avoided while eating and meals should be served in a pleasing and relaxed atmosphere.

Coconut water is an excellent food remedy for gastritis. It gives the stomach necessary rest and provides vitamins and minerals.

The stomach will be greatly helped in returning to its normal condition if nothing except coconut water is given during the first 24 hours.

Rice gruel is another effective remedy in acute cases of gastritis. In chronic cases where the flow of gastric juice is meagre, such foods as require prolonged vigorous mastication will be beneficial as this induces a greater flow of gastric juices.

From the commencement of the treatment , a warm water enema should be used daily, for about a week, to cleanse the bowels. If constipation is habitual, all steps should be taken for its eradication.

The patient should be given daily a dry friction and sponge bath.

Application of heat, through hot compressor or hot water bottle twice in the day either on an empty stomach or two hours after meals , should also prove beneficial.

The patient should not undertake any hard physical and mental work.

He should, however, undertake breathing and other light exercises like walking, swimming, and golf.

He should avoid worries and mental tension.


Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

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Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.

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We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

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