What Causes Food Poisoning?

Many different disease-causing germs can contaminate foods, so there are many different foodborne infections.

CDC estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

  • Researchers have identified more than 250 foodborne diseases.

  • Most of them are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

  • Harmful toxins and chemicals also can contaminate foods and cause foodborne illness.

Some Common Foodborne Germs

Clostridium perfringens

The top five germs that cause illnesses from
food eaten in the United States are:

Some other germs don’t cause as many illnesses, but when
they do, the illnesses are more likely to lead to hospitalization.
Those germs include:

E. coli

See a complete A-Z index of foodborne germs >>

Anyone can get sick from eating contaminated food.

Learn the four simple food safety steps – clean, separate, cook, and chill –
to lower your chance of food poisoning and to protect yourself and your loved ones.