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Food Poisoning

BurgerPoison control centers in Florida receive calls every day about food-related illness or concerns about food safety. Most people call because they ate something they think might make them sick such as:

  • Spoiled food
  • Food that’s been left out too long
  • Food that looks or smells “off”
  • Food that has mold on it
  • Packaged food past its expiration date
  • Undercooked or raw meat

Other people call because they have symptoms they think may be caused by a foodborne illness, like stomach cramping, abdominal pain or vomiting. These calls can be more challenging because the poison specialist is unable to identify the pathogen over the phone. Even in these cases, the poison specialist can evaluate the callers’ symptoms and medical history and give suggestions about what steps need to be taken. The specialist may also be able to exclude certain possibilities, i.e., the illness is unlikely to be ciguatera if the caller hasn’t eaten fish recently. Many people who call about food poisoning can care for themselves effectively at home with help from the poison center. Other, more serious cases may need emergency care in a hospital setting. Poison centers also record these cases so that health department officials can identify and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks quickly.

To report a suspected food poisoning and to get advice about how to manage your symptoms, call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate assistance. If your symptoms have already resolved, contact your county health department, visit the Florida Department of Health to “Report a Problem with Food in Florida”, or call 850-245-4444 to notify authorities of the problem.

For more information about foodborne illness and food safety, including how to prevent food poisoning, visit the following websites:

Florida Department of Health Food Safety and Sanitation (provides information about food safety regulation in Florida)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (provides information about food safety)

Partnership for Food Safety Education (provides educational materials and fact sheets for all ages)