Foodborne illness, commonly called food poisoning, affects one in six Americans every year, causing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, and fever. It is a common, yet easily preventable, disease that is caused when pathogens and poisonous toxins contaminate food.

Here is what you need to know about the disease.

  1. Food can get contaminated if it is not cooked thoroughly, especially meat. Eating food that was incorrectly stored or was not reheated sufficiently can cause food poisoning. Consumption of food items which are past their “best before” date can also cause food poisoning.

  2. Raw meat and poultry, raw eggs, unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, uncooked hot dogs, luncheon meat and soft cheeses are susceptible to contamination.

  3. Symptoms can start within hours of consuming contaminated food, but can sometimes begin days or even weeks later.

  4. Those affected by food poisoning usually get better in a few days even without treatment.

  5. It is important to drink lots of water and get plenty of rest when suffering from food poisoning.

  6. Eating light meals of bland foods like toast, crackers or bananas can also help.

  7. Over 250 different foodborne diseases have been identified so far and most are infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites.

  8. Each infection manifests itself in different symptoms.