Food & Mushroom Poisoning
Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by ingesting contaminated food. Infectious organisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning. Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the causative agent. Severe cases of food poisoning can cause long-term health problems or death. 1
The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. 2 America’s poison centers play an important role in helping to prevent food poisoning by promoting safe food preparation and storage strategies, as well as assisting callers who suspect they are at risk of developing foodborne illness or are exhibiting symptoms of food poisoning. Between 2015 and 2016, poison centers managed almost 60,000 such exposure cases*, as well as assisting over 30,000 callers by providing information on food poisoning and food recalls.
For a list of recent food recalls, please click here.
Visit AAPCC's Food & Mushroom Poisoning Alerts page, here.
For more information on mushroom poisoning, please visit the website for the North American Mycological Association.
AAPCC offers the following simple food safety tips for preparing and enjoying meals:
- Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery bags, in the refrigerator, and while prepping.
- Wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards frequently, especially after handling or preparing uncooked food and before touching or eating other foods. Wash produce but not eggs, meat, or poultry, which can spread harmful bacteria.
- Use the microwave, cold water, or the refrigerator method to defrost your frozen meat or poultry. Do not thaw or marinate these items on the counter, and be sure to cook them immediately after thawing.
- The bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the ‘Danger Zone,’ which is between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. In general, it’s best to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold.
- Use a food thermometer to check if meat is fully cooked and heated high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Cook turkey until it reaches 165° F.
- The safest way to cook stuffing is outside of the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you choose to cook stuffing inside the turkey, stuff the turkey just before cooking, and use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Remove the stuffing immediately after the turkey is finished cooking and place in a separate serving dish.
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly – within two hours – at 40° F or below to help reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
- Prevent cross-contamination by completely and securely covering foods in the refrigerator.
- Consume or freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.
Poison centers are available to provide expert, free, and confidential information and treatment advice 24-hours per day, seven days a week, year-round, including holidays. If you have any questions about safe food preparation, or if you or someone you know suspects food poisoning, call the Poison Help line at 1(800) 222-1222. More information on food-borne illness prevention is available here.
*The term "exposure" means someone has had contact with the substance in some way; for example, ingested, inhaled, absorbed by the skin or eyes, etc. Not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses. Exposure case definition includes food- and mushroom-borne illness, suspected illness, and consumption of recalled food products reported to poison centers.