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Acute gastrointestinal illness from eating foods containing toxins. These toxins may be poisons that occur naturally in plants and animals, chemical contaminants, or toxic products of microorganisms. Most cases are due to bacteria (including salmonella and staphylococcus) and their toxins (including botulism). Some strains of E. coli can cause severe illness. Chemical poisons include heavy metals (seemercury poisoning), either from food or leached out from cookware by acidic foods. Food additives may have a long-term cumulative toxic effect. See alsofish poisoning; mushroom poisoning.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on food poisoning, visit Britannica.com.