Types of Food Poisoning

If a person becomes ill because of consumption of food contaminated with pathogens such as bacteria, it is referred to as food poisoning or foodborne illness. Depending on the type of food poisoning, others may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or both; while there are those that can be fatal especially to the vulnerable ones such as elderly and young children.

There are at least 250 types of documented food poisoning. The following are those that are deemed most common. Find out about these common types of food poisoning below.

For more information on the types of food poisoning, visit the FDA website by clicking here: Foodborne Illnesses: What You Need to Know

E. Coli

E. coli is the most common term used for Escherichia coli O157:H7, a strain of the bacterium Escherichia coli. Most Escherichia coli strains are harmless and actually live in the intestines of normal healthy people and animals, but the strain Escherichia coli O157:H7 is one that produces toxins that could cause severe problems to a person’s health. E. coli may be found in contaminated raw vegetables and undercooked meat. It can also be transferred from person-to-person.

Symptoms: bloody diarrhea, kidney failure (in serious cases)

More information: Types of Food Poisoning: e. Coli

Listeria (Listeriosis)

Listeria monocytogenes is a type of bacteria that can cause listeriosis. Listeriosis is an infection that mostly affects newborns, pregnant women and people with weak immune system. The bacteria listeria may be present in water and soil, and even healthy farm animals. Listeria may be found in uncooked or undercooked vegetables and meats, and even processed foods. Infants may be able to get infected by their mother while they are still in the womb.

Symptoms: fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, loss of balance, convulsions


Norovirus is most commonly known as stomach flu. Norovirus is highly contagious but the infected usually recovers after one or two days. The virus may be found in vomit or stools of an infected person, that’s why it is very important to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, especially if you will handle food, to avoid spreading the virus.

Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping

Salmonella (Salmonellosis)

There are different kinds of salmonella bacteria. The most common in the US are Salmonella serotype Enteritidis and Salmonella serotype Typhimurium. It passes from the fecal matter of humans or animals on to other humans or animals. Salmonella causes diarrhea in humans. Salmonellosis usually lasts for 4 to 7 days, with most people recovering even without treatment. But there are those who may experience severe diarrhea to the point of being hospitalized. Such people may require antibiotic treatment in order to prevent further health problems caused by the bacteria, which goes from the intestines to the bloodstream. If no treatment is given, it may cause death. Infants and elderly are more susceptible to such an extreme and dangerous reaction to salmonella.

More information: Types of Food Poisoning: Salmonella

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