Summer Food Poisoning

Foodborne illness

Interview between:

  • V. Ted Leon, MD MPH

  • Andrew Cunningham, MD

Food poisoning occurs when you eat something that’s been contaminated by a harmful bacteria, virus, or toxin. Summer food poisoning is a term used to describe those cases where the contamination is connected to certain warm-weather behaviors (leaving food out in the sun, for example).

Cases Per Year (US)

There are 48 million total cases of food poisoning per year.

General Frequency

1 in 6 Americans suffer from food poisoning, annually.


Food poisoning is responsible for 128,000 hospitalizations and 3000 deaths, each year.



Why is food poisoning more common in summer? 

Between the 4th of July and Labor Day, there are plenty of warm weekend days when we can enjoy a summer barbecue or picnic with friends and family. Unfortunately, some of the food we share this way will be undercooked, poorly prepared, or left in the heat too long, and this is why summertime is also the peak season for people to get sick with food poisoning. 

What kinds of foods are most often involved?

You can probably guess the usual suspects: hot dogs; hamburgers; coleslaw; and potato, egg, or chicken salad. But the fact is, any type of food can lead to food poisoning if it’s been poorly handled, cross-contaminated, or simply left out too long in the sun. 

Animals harbor bacteria in their intestines, so undercooked or poorly refrigerated flesh meats like beef, pork, chicken, or fish are especially troublesome. Raw eggs occasionally have Salmonella and other bacteria on the outer shell, and rarely (1 in 30,000 eggs!) there may be even be Salmonella inside the egg itself.  Pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe if they have been kept cold, but any dairy product can become infected with bacteria after a few hours in the open air without refrigeration. The CDC monitors which foods are most likely to cause food poisoning.









Connect with our physicians

V. Ted Leon, MD MPH and Andrew Cunningham, MD are both members of the Galileo Clinical Team. Connect with one of our physicians about Summer Food Poisoning or any of the many other conditions we treat.

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