Food poisoning is a very common illness. For most people it is usually mild, but food poisoning can be severe and even deadly for some individuals.
Most cases of food poisoning occur when people eat food or drink water containing bacteria, bacterial toxins (substances produced by bacteria), parasites, or viruses. Food poisoning can also occur when non-infectious poisons (such as poisonous mushrooms) or heavy metals (such as lead or mercury) find their way into people's stomachs.
It is estimated that about 4 million Canadians experience food poisoning each year. People at greatest risk for food poisoning are seniors, pregnant women, young children and babies, and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, AIDS, liver disease).