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Foodborne illnesses

Every year in Queensland thousands of people suffer from gastroenteritis (gastro) associated with eating contaminated food. The condition may be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites

Foodborne illnesses may be caused by:

  • bacteria (such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and Shigella)
  • viruses (such as rotavirus or norovirus)
  • parasites (such as cryptosporidium).

Foodborne illnesses vary in severity depending on the toxin associated with the illness and the amount that has been ingested.

Read more about the common foodborne illnesses

Read about current gastro alerts

Symptoms and treatment

The symptoms of foodborne illness may include:

  • diarrhoea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal cramps
  • fever and headaches.

A person suffering a foodborne illness may have one or more of these symptoms.

Symptoms are often the same as for ‘gastro’ type illnesses caused by other sources (for example other people carrying the bacteria, unhygienic surfaces) which can make it difficult to tell if the illness is caused by food or another source of illness.

The incubation period (the time between eating the food and the appearance of the first symptom) may be as long as 3‐4 days. This means that the last meal consumed may not necessarily be the culprit. The duration of illness may also vary from 1‐7 days. It is important to note that foods that cause foodborne illness will not necessarily look, taste or smell any different to safe food.

Many people have mild symptoms and recover within a few days. However, if symptoms persist for more than 3 days or are severe, medical advice should be sought.

Reporting suspected cases of food poisoning

If you have a concern about a food product or a food business, you can make a complaint or seek advice from the relevant government agency.

Report a food safety issue

Common foodborne illnesses

Read about the symptoms, treatment, transmission and prevention for each of these diseases:

Reducing the spread of common gastrointestinal diseases

Find quick reference fact sheets with tips for:

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
26 November 2015
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