Food Poisoning Causes
More than 250 known diseases can be transmitted through food. The CDC estimates unknown or undiscovered agents cause 81% of all food-borne illnesses and related hospitalizations. Many cases of food poisoning are not reported because people suffer mild symptoms and recover quickly. Also, doctors do not test for a cause in every suspected case because it does not change the treatment or the outcome.
The known causes of food poisoning can be divided into two categories: infectious agents and toxic agents.
Infectious agents include viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
Toxic agents include poisonous mushrooms, improperly prepared exotic foods (such as barracuda), or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
Food usually becomes contaminated from poor sanitation or preparation. Food handlers who do not wash their hands after using the bathroom or have infections themselves often cause contamination. Improperly packaged food stored at the wrong temperature also promotes contamination.