Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Food Poisoning

 

Am Fam Physician. 2015 Sep 1;92(5):online.

  See related article on foodborne illness

What causes food poisoning?

Food poisoning happens after someone eats food that has germs or viruses in it.

How do I know if a food is bad?

It's not always easy to tell. Food recalls may be in the news when outbreaks happen. It's best to assume that all raw meats (including poultry), eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables could have germs.

How do I know if I have food poisoning?

Food poisoning usually causes stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The diarrhea may have blood in it. Some types of food poisoning can be very serious. It's important to let your doctor know if you think you might have it.

How can I keep from getting sick?

Pay attention to food recall notices, and don't eat food that has been recalled. Only eat shellfish that have been cooked or treated for safe eating. Never cook for others if you have diarrhea or have been vomiting. When preparing food, remember: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

  • Clean. Wash your hands and anything else that touches raw meat (including cutting boards and countertops). Don't wash raw meat or eggs. This can actually spread germs to other foods. Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Separate. Don't let raw meat touch other foods. Use different cutting boards for meat and vegetables.

  • Cook. Cook food to a safe temperature (see table on next page). Don't drink unpasteurized dairy products or juices.

  • Chill. Put foods that belong in the refrigerator away as soon as possible. Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

View/Print Table

Safe Cooking Temperatures

FoodInternal temperature

Egg dishes

160°F

Eggs

Cook until yolks and whites are firm

Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb

145°F with a 3-minute rest time

Ground meat

Beef, pork, veal, and lamb

160°F

Turkey and chicken

165°F

Ham

Fresh (raw)

145°F with a 3-minute rest time

Precooked (to reheat)

140°F

Leftovers and casseroles

165°F

Poultry

Chicken and turkey, whole

165°F

Duck and goose

165°F

Poultry parts

165°F

Stuffing (cooked in bird)

165°F

Seafood

Clams, oysters, and mussels

Cook until shells open

Fish

145°F or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork

Scallops

Cook until flesh is firm and milky white or opaque

Shrimp, lobster, and crabs

Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque

Safe Cooking Temperatures

FoodInternal temperature

Egg dishes

160°F

Eggs

Cook until yolks and whites are firm

Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb

145°F with a 3-minute rest time

Ground meat

Beef, pork, veal, and lamb

160°F

Turkey and chicken

165°F

Ham

Fresh (raw)

145°F with a 3-minute rest time

Precooked (to reheat)

140°F

Leftovers and casseroles

165°F

Poultry

Chicken and turkey, whole

165°F

Duck and goose

165°F

Poultry parts

165°F

Stuffing (cooked in bird)

165°F

Seafood

Clams, oysters, and mussels

Cook until shells open

Fish

145°F or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork

Scallops

Cook until flesh is firm and milky white or opaque

Shrimp, lobster, and crabs

Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

 

Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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