Other foodborne illnesses

Bacteria, viruses and parasites can cause foodborne illnesses. Strategies and procedures, supported by research, control their incidence.

There are more than 250 known foodborne diseases. They are caused when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites, or their toxins are present in contaminated foods. Many microbes of this sort are commonly found in the intestines of healthy food-producing animals. 

Bacteria which cause foodborne diseases

As well as Campylobacter, Salmonella and Listeria, there are other bacteria that cause foodborne diseases including pathogenic:

  • E. coli O157 and other STECs
  • Yersinia
  • Shigella
  • Enterobacter
  • Citrobacter.

In addition, foodborne diseases can be caused by bacterial toxins. These are toxins generated by bacteria and may be highly poisonous in many cases. These include toxins from Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum and Bacillus cereus.

Viruses which cause foodborne diseases

Foodborne diseases can also be caused by viruses, such as calicivirus (including norovirus), rotavirus and hepatitis A. These are primarily transmitted by food or water contaminated with human waste. Norovirus causes approximately 90% of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis in the world.

Parasites which cause foodborne diseases

Parasites can also be present in food or in water. Parasites that may be transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water include Trichinella, Giardia, Blastocystis and Cryptosporidium.

Symptoms and effects

Most people affected by foodborne diseases suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms. However, these diseases can also have neurological, gynaecological, immunological and other symptoms.

Research and reports

Research commissioned by MPI:

  • informs future strategic decisions about managing foodborne illness
  • helps develop guidance for operators.

You can find more information about research funded by MPI – including risk profiles and foodborne disease reports – in the Science & research section of the site. The section includes pages for norovirus and Escherichia coli (STEC including E. coli O157) and norovirus.

Hazard risk management strategies

Key contacts