What Is The Biggest Cause Of Food Poisoning?

If you've ever gotten the feeling of nausea or a bubbling stomach after you've eaten your favorite meal, you've probably asked yourself, "Do I have food poisoning?" Food poisoning is quite common in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million Americans get food poisoning every year.

Food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, occurs when you eat food that has been contaminated with viruses, bacteria, parasites, or toxins. Contamination can happen at any time during the food production process (via Mayo Clinic). If food contamination is detected before or after the products hit the shelves, there will be a food recall.

The factory isn't the only place your food can become contaminated. Food contamination can happen in your kitchen at home or at your favorite restaurant. According to the Mayo Clinic, food contamination happens in kitchens and restaurants because of improper cooking and handling. You can start having symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps just hours after eating the contaminated food.

Chicken and norovirus are the leading causes of food poisoning

Your food can become contaminated by several kinds of germs and pathogens that you can't see with the naked eye. However, there is one that makes the top of the list. According to the CDC, noroviruses are the leading cause of foodborne illnesses. The norovirus is highly contagious from person to person and can be spread through food, water, contaminated surfaces, and unwashed hands. If seafood, fruits, or vegetables are grown or left in a contaminated environment, they can carry the norovirus (via CDC).

A lot of food contamination from the norovirus happens in restaurants with foods that don't require cooking, like fruits and vegetables. However, if foods are not cooked properly or if they are touched by infected hands after they are cooked, they can become contaminated as well.  Any food can become contaminated, but there's one that is most responsible for illnesses due to food poisoning.

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) by the CDC, contaminated chicken was responsible for the highest percentage of foodborne illness outbreaks. To avoid food poisoning, be sure to wash your hands before you prepare and consume meals, pay attention to reports on food recalls, and eat at restaurants that receive a high score on health inspection.