What Are the Effects of Food Contamination?

Food contamination can occur from poor hygiene and handling of food. In some cases there may already be bacteria or parasites present in the food. Improper cooking can also lead to contamination. Some foods are more susceptible to contamination including red meats, poultry, cheese and dairy, eggs, raw fish and shellfish. The symptoms of consuming contaminated food include upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and dehydration. Symptoms may appear as early as 30 minutes after eating contaminated food or as long as several days. Some severe cases may require hospitalization.

Upset Stomach, Nausea and Vomiting

Upset stomach, nausea and vomiting may be signs of food contamination. E. coli is a common bacterial contamination in undercooked meat, water, raw milk and vegetables that have been in contact with manure. It can also be passed from an infected person.

Abdominal Cramps

Mild Food Poisoning Symptoms

Learn More

Abdominal cramps will typically accompany other food contamination symptoms. Salmonella is most often found in egg, dairy, poultry and beef products.


Diarrhea is a symptom that appears with other digestive conditions with food contamination. Clostridium botulinum may be found in food that canned at home, but not done properly.


Is Lightheadedness a Symptom of Food Poisoning?

Learn More

If fever is present with gastrointestinal symptoms, it may mean exposure to contaminated food. Clostridium perfringens appears in meat, poultry, gravy and foods that were prepared a full day before consumption that were not reheated properly.


Dehydration can occur as a result of severe vomiting and diarrhea. Replacement of fluids is critical to recovery of illness from food contamination.


Thorough and frequent hand washing can prevent food contamination. Avoiding cross contamination of different foods as well as washing utensils and work areas can also help. You should be certain to cook all foods to their appropriate temperature requirements. Prompt refrigeration of leftovers is important.