How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

In order to be able to address the question of how long does food poisoning last, it is necessary to establish what is the cause and nature of the poisoning.

Firstly, we need to define what it is. It can best be described as a food borne disease from food that contains a toxin, chemical or infectious agent (like a bacterium, virus, parasite, or prion).

In general, most food borne diseases cause vomiting and diarrhea that tend to be short lived and resolve themselves on their own.The most well known causes are the Norovirus, Salmonella, E-coli, and various bacteria.

In the US,the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year approximately 48 million people become ill from food related diseases resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths.

Many myths have developed about food poisoning and its causes, so our Life Daily team did some research into the subject. Although this article refers to the symptoms of food poisoning, we felt that prevention is better than cure. If you follow the tips and advice below, you should not have to worry about contracting the disease at all.

Myth #1:

False: Mayonnaise is often the cause of food-borne illness.

Truth: Mayonnaise does not cause food poisoning, it’s the bacteria. The foods mayonnaise is commonly mixed with such as pasta, potatoes, eggs, chicken, or tuna, can have bacteria growing in them if they’re not kept at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 degrees Celsius). Commercially prepared mayonnaise is safe to use.

Myth #2:

False: Washing your hands briefly before you start preparing food is enough to keep you safe.

Truth: Hands must be washed often and properly, before and after touching food. And especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets. Use warm, soapy water, a clean paper towel, and 20 seconds of scrubbing between fingers, under nails, and up to your wrist.

Myth #3:

False: As long as you cook eggs, they’re safe to eat.

Truth: You can prepare your eggs over easy, but not sunny-side up. Make sure egg white is completely cooked and the egg yolk is starting to gel, to ensure a safe egg.

Myth #4:

False: Using the same utensils, cutting boards, and plates for foods eaten at the same meal is safe if they are clean to start with.

Truth: Raw meat can cross-contaminate other foods and must be prepared separately. Either use separate utensils, cutting boards, and serving plates for meats, or carefully wash them between use. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, not the same one that held the meat before it was cooked.

Myth #5:

False: If food is kept in a cooler, it will be maintained at the proper temperature.

Truth: Bacteria grow where the temperature range is from 40-140 degrees F (4.5 – 60 degrees C).
When the weather is warm and you are eating outdoors, it is difficult to keep food below 40 degrees F. The only way to be sure if your cooler or refrigerator is at the proper temperature is to use a thermometer.

Myth #6:

False: You can tell when meat is properly cooked just by looking at it and pressing on it.

Truth: The only way to know if a food is cooked well enough to kill the bacteria is to use a meat thermometer. Do not cook meats partially ahead of time because this promotes bacterial growth. And, for example, Burgers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (71 degrees C)

Myth #7:

False: Food can be left at room or outdoor temperature for more than two hours.

Truth: Because bacteria grow rapidly, food left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. If the temperature outside is 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) – or hotter, food should be discarded after just one hour.

Myth #8:

False: You can tell when food is spoiled because it looks or smells bad.

Truth: It’s true that you can often tell if food is not fit to eat by the look or smell. However, bacteria are invisible and you can’t always tell if they are present.

The safety slogan you should always follow is:

Myth #9:

False: Spraying at the grocery store adequately washes produce.

Truth: Spraying water on produce keeps it looking fresh, but it’s no substitute for proper cleaning.
Wash fruits and vegetables under running streaming water. Thick-skinned fruits, such as bananas or melons, should be thoroughly washed before cutting into them to ensure any bacteria on the surface are not transferred to the fruit itself with the cutting knife.

If, in spite of trying to do everything to prevent it, you are unfortunate enough to contract food poisoning, you can take small comfort in the fact that it will usually only last from 24 to 48 hours. If the symptoms persist for much longer, you should seek medical advice.

We hope this answers the question of how long food poisoning lasts, but if you have any questions, or other tips for our readers, just use the comments feed below to let us know.

For the five foods you should never eat go here.