Food poisoning

   Food poisoning is of two general types: that caused by food contaminated with certain bacteria or bacterial toxins and that caused by plants or animals that are in themselves poisonous.

   Bacterial Food Poisoning. The principal bacterial food contaminants are the Salmonella group of organisms and, rarely, the colon bacillus. The principal bacterial toxins causing food poisoning are those produced by the staphylococcus and by the organism that causes botulism.
   Salmonella food poisoning usually occurs in epidemics, symptoms of food poisoning appearing suddenly in a group of persons who have eaten the same food. Nausea, colic, diarrhea, and fever are common symptoms. Recovery occurs in a few days, and deaths are rare.
   Staphylococcus food poisoning is probably the commonest form of epidemic food poisoning. A toxin is produced by some strains of staphylococcus and upon ingestion causes gastrointestinal symptoms. Good mediums for production of the toxin are pastries containing cream, custards, whipped cream, cottage cheese, milk, butter, cold meat, gravy, and salad dressing. Nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea are the usual symptoms. The attack usually lasts about a day.
   Botulism is one of the most serious forms of food poisoning and has a high death rate.

   Nonbacterial Food Poisoning. This type of poisoning can occur after the ingestion of certain species of mushroom, immature or sprouting potatoes, certain sea foods (such as mussels), grain contaminated with ergot fungus, fruits sprayed with lead or arsenic, or food stored in cadmium-lined containers. The most severe and fatal forms are mushroom and mussel poisoning.