Food Intoxication and How to Avoid Food Poisoning

We’ve all been there; we’ve all eaten or drank something that did not sit well with us, only to spend countless hours laying on the bathroom floor, wondering if we’ll make it through the night. It’s moments like these when food poisoning creates memorable experiences for all the wrong reasons. If you’ve experienced food poisoning symptoms before, you know just how awful it can be. You also know that knowledge is power and that learning how to avoid food poisoning can help you prevent it. So, what is food poisoning, exactly?


What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning, also known as food borne illness, is an all-too-common condition that occurs when contaminated food or water is ingested. These consumables become tainted from infectious organisms, such as viruses, parasites, toxins, and bacteria. Food poisoning is often the result of eating contaminated produce or undercooked meat. You can also contract food poisoning if you eat food that was mishandled during preparation. Unfortunately, even if every precaution is taken, it’s difficult to pinpoint when food is “poisoned,” as it can happen at any stage between farm and table.

Some ways that contaminants spread to food at home are:

Failure to properly wash hands, food surfaces, and cooking utensils – Not thoroughly washing areas that are prone to bacteria growth is one of the most common ways to contaminate consumables. Remember to take the time to disinfect anything that may come in contact with your food, this includes your hands!

Ready-to-eat foods are kept in contact with raw foods – When cooking at home, it’s beneficial to tackle all of your fresh foods first. This will help you avoid cross-contamination.

Undercooked foods –Cooking food at a high temperature kills off harmful bacteria. If a food such as meat is undercooked, bacteria could still be present, and it may lead to food poisoning.

Failing to freeze or refrigerate consumables in time – Sometimes time passes you by too quickly, and before you realize it, that raw ground beef you meant to cook for Taco Tuesday is over a week old. Don’t chance it–toss it out!

How Can I Tell If I Have Food Poisoning?

Unfortunately, without proper medical attention, there’s no definite way to determine if your symptoms are the result of contaminated food consumption. However, more typical and less severe food poisoning symptoms include an upset stomach, nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, a mild fever, diarrhea, and vomiting.

A word of caution, if these symptoms persist and are joined with a high fever that exceeds 100.4 F, severe dehydration, blurred vision, and weakness, please consult your professional healthcare provider for thorough care and medical attention.


How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

Contrary to popular belief, the unpleasant symptoms of food poisoning often present themselves weeks after eating. Depending on the type of contaminant, the onset of food poisoning symptoms can be detected in as little as one hour to as long as twenty-eight days after the initial ingestion. While the effects can be devastating, the good news is that the experience comes and goes in as little as twenty-four hours.

For the average person, food intoxication is particularly fleeting, and some people may even experience it a few times a month. But for those with an already compromised immune system, such as infants and the elderly, the effects of food borne illnesses are much more severe.


How Can I Avoid Food Poisoning?

While it’s extremely difficult to detect if a certain food has any harmful and infectious bacteria, there are definitely some things to keep in mind that will help you steer clear of unwanted and unpleasant sickness.

Read the list on how to avoid food poisoning below:

The Expiration Date is Past Due

Always check the expiration date prior to food consumption. This one seems rather obvious, but it’s important to mention. Expiration dates are a helpful indicator as to when you should throw old food away.

It Smells Foul

In most cases, you can tell if food has gone bad if it smells just a little “off” to you. Trust your instincts on this one. For example, the time window to let your raw poultry sit in your fridge is very small (about a day or two). If you can detect any unusual or sour scents coming from your food, listen to your gut and opt out—you’ll be glad you did!

It Looks Discolored or Deformed

Looks might not be everything, but when it comes to food, they can be very telling. For example, if your raw poultry no longer looks pink and has taken on a sort of gray color, then you should err on the side of caution as this is a clear sign that your food has grown harmful contaminants. In short, if the appearance of your food doesn’t seem right, it’s probably because there’s something wrong.

When in Doubt…Toss it Out!

If you find yourself questioning the state of your food, a good rule of thumb is to just consider it lost. When it comes to food intoxication prevention, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.


To sum up, food intoxication, or food borne illnesses, can occur from the consumption of contaminated food or water, and although we can try to prevent it, food poisoning is sometimes unavoidable—despite our very best efforts. Although food borne illnesses typically don’t last for too long, nausea, fever, and other unpleasant characteristics of food poisoning aren’t worth the risk. If you’re experiencing similar symptoms to the ones listed above, please seek professional medical help.
If you’ve experienced severe food intoxication in the recent past and are seeking legal representation, Portland Food Poisoning Lawyer Travis Mayor provides thorough and relentless legal counsel. For a personal consultation, please contact Mayor Law, LLC by calling (503) 678-9149, or email Travis Mayor directly at