Skip to Main navigation Skip to Left navigation Skip to Main content Skip to Footer

University of Minnesota Extension
Print Icon Email Icon Share Icon

Extension > Food > Food Safety > Sanitation and Illness > Is it food poisoning?

Sanitation and Illness

Is it food poisoning?

William Schafer

If you or a family member develop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or cramps, you could have food poisoning. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell since, depending on the illness, symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 weeks later. Most often, though, people get sick within 4 to 48 hours after eating bad food.

In more serious cases, food poisoning victims may have nervous system problems like paralysis, double vision or trouble swallowing or breathing.

If symptoms are severe or the victim is very young, old, pregnant or already ill, call a doctor or go to the hospital right away.

When to report foodborne illness

If you believe that you became sick from eating any food or beverage, call the Minnesota Foodborne Illness Hotline toll-free at 1-877-366-3455 or Twin Cities area at 651-201-5655 or your county health department or your medical clinic. Report any food poisoning incidents if the food involved came from a restaurant or commercial outlet.

Give a detailed but short account of the incident. If the food is a commercial product, have it in hand so you can describe it. If you're asked to keep the food refrigerated so officials can examine it later, follow directions carefully.

For more information on food handling, call USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-674-6854 or email your questions to


Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook. 2015. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Reporting Suspected Foodborne and Waterborne Illness. Minnesota Department of Health.

Related resources

Revised by Suzanne Driessen 2016

  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy