When germs invade a food or water product, it is referred to as contamination. Contaminated food is not safe to consume due to the bacteria causing a condition known as food poisoning. Food poisoning is an illness that occurs when you consume food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or the toxins made by common germs found in bacteria such as Staphylococcus or E. coli. The condition is often characterized by the side effects that come with acquiring it, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Food poisoning can have several causes, such as the consumption of undercooked meat, typically beef, which comes in contact with toxins via the intestinal tract of the animal being consumed.
Preparing food without proper sanitary conditions being met, such as handwashing and utensil cleaning can also invite these toxins. Food poisoning, while being serious enough to require immediate treatment to prevent dehydration or a more serious medical issue due to neglect, is usually never severe enough to cause death.
Food poisoning is considered contagious. This transfer of illness via food is known as foodborne contagious illness. To further note the contagious quality of the sickness, coming in contact with the feces or vomit of someone with food poisoning can spread the illness due to the bacteria they contain.
The severity of different types of food poisonings varies depending on both the person affected and the type of illness contracted. Symptoms manifest differently depending on the type of illness, and whether they are bacterial or viral. For further details on each individual type of foodborne illness, including treatment, identification, and prevention, resources are available at FoodSafety.gov.