Bread, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, onions, slice of cheese, ground beef and ketchup. These usually are the only ingredients in your hamburger. But before you take your first bite, you might want to follow a few simple steps to make sure you don’t get a mouthful of E. coli, giardia lamblia, shigella or staphylococcus aureus.

Various bacteria, viruses and parasites, or their toxins, are the most common causes of food poisoning. Food can be contaminated anywhere along the production process, from growing or harvesting, to processing and shipping, to preparing and storing. Some common culprits for contamination include raw meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, melons, unpasteurized apple cider, prepared salads, cream filled pastries, hot dogs and luncheon meats.

Illness resulting from food poisoning usually lasts from one to 10 days. Signs of food poisoning will vary in severity and according to the source of the contamination, amount of exposure to the infectious organism, and the person’s age and overall health. Food poisoning generally causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, fever, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Food poisoning can be prevented through proper handling and cooking of food to kill bacteria.

  • Wash hands after handling or preparing food.
  • Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw foods away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook food to the appropriate internal temperature.
  • Promptly refrigerate or freeze leftover food that is perishable.
  • Defrost foods in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
  • Rinse produce thoroughly.
  • Throw away food that may be contaminated.
  • Keep utensils and food preparation areas clean.
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. 

To learn more about food poisoning, take the free, online Food Poisoning Quiz on the Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake website at

Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake

9400 Poppy Drive
Dallas, TX 75218


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