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Foodborne illness

Foodborne illness ((also referred to as foodborne disease or food

poisoning) is any illness resulting from the consumption of
contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that
contaminate food, as well as chemical or natural toxins such as
poisonous mushrooms.

Foodborne illness usually arises from improper handling,

preparation, or food storage. Good hygiene practices before,
during, and after food preparation can reduce the chances of
contracting an illness. Most foodborne illnesses are acute, meaning
they happen suddenly and last a short time, and most people
recover on their own without treatment. Occasionally, foodborne
illness may lead to more serious complications.
A bacterial food intoxication therefore refers to food borne
illnesses caused by the presence of a bacterial toxin formed in the

A bacterial food infection refers to food borne illnesses caused by

the entrance of bacteria into the body through ingestion of
contaminated foods and the reaction of the body to their presence
or to their metabolites.


Chemical Poisonings Intoxications Enterotoxigenic Invasive

Sporulation Growth and


Poisonous Poisonous
Plant Animal
Intoxications Intestinal Other
Tissues Tissues Systemic
mucosa Tissues

Algal Mycotoxins Bacterial

Toxins Toxins

Enterotoxins Neurotoxins Interferes with


Figure: A Classification of Food-Borne Diseases

Food-borne diseases : bacterial

Intoxications Infections

1. Staphylococcal intoxication (staphylococcal 1. Salmonellosis : enterotoxin and cytotoxin of

enterotoxicosis) : an enterotoxin produced by Salmonella spp.
Staphylococcus aureus

2. Botulism : a neurotoxin produced by 2. Clostridium perfringens illness : an enterotoxin

Clostridium botulinum released during sporulation of Clostridium
perfringens type A in the intestinal tract

3. Bacillus cereus gastroenteritis : an

exoenterotoxin released during lysis of Bacillus
cereus in the intestinal tract

4. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli infection :

Several serotypes of E. coli, some invasive and
some enterotoxigenic

5. Others : Yersiniosis, Shigellosis ,

Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Figure : Examples of bacteria responsible for food-borne intoxications and infections

Classification of Foods by Ease of Spoilage

On the basis of ease of spoilage, foods can be classified into three

1. Stable or nonperishable foods: These foods do not spoil unless
handled carelessly. For example, sugar, flour, and dry beans.
2. Semi perishable foods: If these foods are properly handled and
stored, they will remain unspoiled for a fairly long period. Example:
potatoes, some varieties of apples, etc.
3. Perishable foods: This group includes most important daily foods
that spoil readily unless special preservative methods are used. For
example: meat, fish, poultry, most fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk