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Food Poisoning


Prevention of the four major types of food poisoning

Background for Teachers

There are four main types of food poisoning or toxins produced by bacterial which can be prevented with sanitary work habits.

The four types of food poisoning are:

  1. staphylococcal poisoning
  2. salmonellosis
  3. perfringens poisoning
  4. botulism

Staph -- (staphylococcal poisoning) is transmitted mostly by food handlers. Its common sources are raw meat, open sores and mucous. It is resistant to heat. The common foods it occurs in are lunch meat, cheese, custard, cream pie, egg salad, chicken, potatoes, and macaroni. The symptoms consist of cramps, upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue.

Salmonellae -- (salmonellosis) is difficult to control because it is carried by insects, rodents, pets like dogs, cats, and birds. Its common sources include chicken, red meat, eggs, dairy, and dried foods. The common symptoms involve
severe headache, stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Perfringens Poisoning consists of spores that grow without oxygen. It is found in soil, sewage, and the intestinal tract. It occurs most often at banquets where large amounts of foods are handled improperly. Common foods include stew, soup and gravy. Symptoms consist of nausea without vomiting, diarrhea and stomach inflammation.

Botulism consists of spores most often contained in home-canned foods that have been improperly processed. These spores produce deadly toxins which are extremely heat resistant. They grow without oxygen. Sixty-five percent of people with botulism die. An antitoxin is available if caught in time. The common symptoms involve double vision, inability to swallow, speech difficulty, and progressive suffocation. Prevention includes the destruction of all bulging, leaking or damaged cans. NEVER taste the food.

To prevent the first three food poisoning types, keep foods hot (about 140˚F) or cold (below 40˚F).

Instructional Procedures


  1. Have students name the things they listed on paper while watching a SALAD DEMONSTRATION and tell why each of the teacher's procedures were unsanitary. Use the list of unsanitary things to do during the demonstration (there may be others).
  2. Instruct the students to take notes on the four types of food poisoning.
  3. Students will receive four signs: pink, green, blue, and orange. Each color is labeled with one of the four types of food poisoning. As some aspect of a food poisoning type is stated from the content above, all students hold up a sign to distinguish the type of poisoning portrayed.
  4. Students and the teacher discuss LAB SANITATION INFORMATION SHEET.
  5. Students will write a letter of advice to an imaginary friend who has had food poisoning seven times within the last year. The letter must include:
    3 ways to keep oneself clean
    3 ways to keep the kitchen clean
    3 hints as to proper food storage and preparation (list this criteria on the board)

The students should give personal experiences if possible. The students will use the LAB SANITATION INFORMATION SHEET for reference.


  • Content from Food for Today, 1990, pp. 203-206
  • Guide to Good food by Velda Largen, Goodheart/Wilcox, 1979 pp. 75-80
  • Content for "Lab Sanitation Information Sheet" from Food for Today, 1990, pp. 203-206

Created: 06/20/1997
Updated: 02/05/2018