Difference Between Food Poisoning and Food Intoxication

Food Poisoning vs Food Intoxication

Both food poisoning and food intoxication have more or less similar meaning. Nevertheless they are similar in the context, in most of the cases, so that it misleads the people who study the subject in depth. Both the terms can be encountered into a common subject area called food microbiology. Food spoilage microorganisms are responsible for the low quality end product where the poor food safety is due to pathogenic microbes. Intoxication and poisoning are resulted due to the activity of pathogenic microbes. Therefore, both cases are very much important in regulating food safety. In this article, you will get an idea about how intoxication differs with poisoning, unique features of each terms, similarities and some of the applications.

Food Poisoning

The term food poisoning is used to refer variety of ideas in different literature. But most of the cases gives the same interpretation as food borne illness / food borne disease. Therefore, it can be defined as any state of poor health resulting from the consumption of contaminated food. There can be several factors causing food poisoning. Frequent food poisoning outbreaks are due to pathogenic microorganisms, chemicals and parasites. Some of the food poisoning organisms can be named as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio cholera. They are not like food spoilage microbes and do not alter the appearance and taste of products. Also, they are not easy to assess the microbial safety of foods without performing multiple microbiological tests. Poisoning due to viable pathogenic microbes and their performed toxins can be again classified in to three other major categories namely infection, intoxication and toxicoinfection. They are mainly based on the mechanism of pathogenesis. An ingestion of infective pathogen is called as infection, where the toxin is produced inside the host after ingestion of microorganism can be identified as toxicoinfection.

Food Intoxication

Intoxication is one of the predominant mechanisms of producing toxins by pathogenic microorganisms which cause food borne illnesses. When the host is ingested with performed toxin in the food by a microorganism, it can be referred as food intoxication. Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, and Bacillus cereus are some of the organisms which are capable of producing toxic compounds inside the food material. The symptoms will arise after ingesting the toxins but not due to the ingestion of microbes. The food borne illnesses due to above mentioned microbes are staphylococcal intoxication, botulism and mycotoxicosis respectively. Fermented carbohydrates, protein rich foods, canned fish products, pulses and cereals are the most susceptible food items for intoxication. Intoxications like botulism are fatal where a small amount of toxins can produce the symptoms and even cause death.

What is the difference between food poisoning and food intoxication?

Contamination of food items by pathogenic microorganisms is the cause for both food poisoning and food intoxication. However, the intoxication is only a way of occurrence of food poisoning. There are several other ways and means are available in the case of pathogenesis. A combination of intoxication, infection and toxicoinfection, collectively, can be recognized as food poisoning/ food borne illness.