Food Poisoning: Causes…and How To Prevent It

Food poisoning is a sickness that brings about nausea and vomiting, among other flu-like symptoms. What most don’t realize is that food poisoning can come from a number of different contaminants, which can bring about symptoms that last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from food poisoning. So just where exactly does this painful sickness come from? The overall cause can be broken down into three groups: viruses, parasites, and bacteria.



Here are the top three most common food poison-causing bacteria:


As we eat, several times a day, it is imperative to monitor the sources of our food, and our responses to them. If at any time you or a loved one experiences any of the above-listed symptoms, please visit your local primary or urgent care center. And, if you’re in the Orange County area, our locations include Woodbridge Walk-In in Irvine, Fountain Valley Urgent Care, and Costa Mesa Urgent Care. Be sure to schedule an appointment to save time!

  1. Salmonella.This is arguably one of the most commonly-known food poison-causing bacteria. The most common foods that carry salmonella include contaminated eggs, meat, and unpasteurized milk, just to name a few. The symptoms for salmonella-caused food poisoning include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, which can appear anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after consumption and last anywhere from 4 to 7 days.
  2. Campylobacter.This bacteria is actually one of the most common to be linked to food poisoning. Common sources include raw and undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated water. This bacteria reminds us of the importance to ensure our meats are thoroughly cooked (especially in the middle), to think twice about consuming raw milk, and to boil water if it originates from a suspicious source (i.e. a well). Symptoms from this bacteria appear 2 to 5 days after consumption and last for a duration of 2 to 10 days. Symptoms include cramps, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea (which often contains blood). 
  3. E. Coli.E. Coli is another “famous” bacteria that causes food poisoning. Sources can include contaminated ground beef, unpasteurized milk, and raw produce. Be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables before consumption. Sprouts are a common vegetable that forms a nesting ground for E. Coli., and therefore should be washed very thoroughly, or avoided completely. Symptoms occur 1 to 10 days after consumption, and can last anywhere from 5 to 10 days. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and vomiting, diarrhea that is often bloody, and typically no fever.

Family Health Care


Gina Nguyen, MD

Dr. Nguyen is a medical director at Family Care Center Costa Mesa. She has implemented standards of care for underserved population and helped the clinic achieve NCQA (National Committee of Quality Assurance) Level 2 recognition and FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Care Center) status. Now, her focus is on providing the highest quality care to patients and improving lifestyle choices to reduce or eliminate health problems.

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