Food Poisoning

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Food Poisoning occurs when eating results in illness. Health, which depends on nutrition, may fail through malnutrition, which is not quite the same thing as poisoning, normally reckoned the fault of a specific ingredient. Occasionally, however, the excess consumption of what are known as micronutrients—vitamins and trace elements (see minerals)—can poison if taken in excessive quantities.

It can be tempting to see the behavioural and epidemiological character of both past and present societies entirely in terms of their ingestion of food. Once one has some knowledge of the potential of food to kill or sicken, to influence a person’s view on life, and to determine underlying physical conditions, there is a strong urge to read those potentialities onto earlier (or different) diets and ways of eating.