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Food Poisoning


Food poisoning is an illness caused by the consumption of contaminated food or drink.  Food poisoning is common and not a concern in most people, however can be serious in those who have compromised immune symptoms.  Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with chronic disease are at a higher risk of food poisoning due to a compromised or not yet fully developed immune system response.



Harmful organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites are the most common causes of food poisoning. These infectious organisms can contaminate food when it is handled, stored or prepared incorrectly. Inadequate cooking of food (especially meats and poultry), incorrect food storage, poor hygiene and cross-contamination (the transfer of harmful bacteria from one object to another) are common contributing factors.



The symptoms of food poisoning may vary depending on the type of bacteria causing the illness and can occur almost immediately after eating, or a number of hours later. The severity can range from mild to severe but normally include one or more of the following:

  • nausea,
  • stomach cramps,
  • diarrhoea,
  • vomiting,
  • fever, and/or
  • headaches.




Avoid handling other people’s food whilst you have food poisoning as it could contaminate their food and continue to spread the virus.


Experiencing food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea can mean that a lot of the body’s fluids are lost which can possibly lead to dehydration. Replacing lost fluids by taking regular sips of clear fluids such as sports drinks, apple juice or lemonade helps to achieve adequate hydration and is a great management strategy for this condition. In most cases, the symptoms of food poisoning go away in 2 to 3 days. If symptoms persist or if you are pregnant, it is wise to see your local doctor.



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.



Better Health Channel$File/Food_poisoning_how_to_prevent_it.pdf


Food Authority NSW