Foodborne illness is a disease that happens after consuming contaminated foods or drinks.
Foodborne illness occurs when food has:
Foodborne illness is more common in babies and older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Problems may not start until hours or weeks after consuming the food or drink. They may be mild to severe.
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect foodborne illness based on symptoms. They may ask about suspect foods.
Tests may be done if the cause is not clear or symptoms are severe. Tests may include:
Most foodborne illness will improve in 12 to 48 hours. Most can recover at home. Symptoms can be managed with:
Some foodborne illness will need medical care. For example:
The risk of this problem may be lowered by:
American Gastroenterological Association
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education
Food poisoning. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/food-poisoning.html. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Food poisoning. FoodSafety.gov website. Available at: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/index.html. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Food poisoning. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/sick/food_poisoning.html. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Foodborne illnesses. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/foodborne-illnesses. Accessed February 5, 2021.
Shane AL, Mody RK, et al. 2017 Infectious Diseases Society of America Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Infectious Diarrhea. Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Nov 29;65(12):e45-e80.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN Last Updated: 2/5/2021