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food poisoning

Introduction

food poisoning, acute illness following the eating of foods contaminated by bacteria, bacterial toxins, natural poisons, or harmful chemical substances. It was once customary to classify all such illnesses as "ptomaine poisoning," but it was later discovered that ptomaines, the products of decayed protein, do not cause illness. The symptoms, in varying degree and combination, include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and prostration; more serious cases can result in permanent disability or death.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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