Differences between toxic and food borne infections

Differences between toxic and food borne infections

Infective food poisoning and food borne diseases

These are caused by the consumption of food or drink contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites. These pathogens cause infection in one of two ways:

  • by invading the body and multiplying in the lining of the intestines and/or other body tissues and
  • by invading and multiplying in the intestines and releasing toxin.

Toxic food poisoning and food borne disease

 These are caused by consuming food and drink contaminated with a toxin. Sources of toxin are:

  • some bacteria (viruses, and parasites do not cause intoxication)
  • poisonous chemicals and metals and
  • natural toxins from animals, plants and fungi.

Note: Some pathogenic bacteria can be both infectious and toxic.


Causative agent (organism)

The causative agent is the bacterium, toxin or poison that contaminates the food and causes food poisoning when the food is consumed. 

Onset or incubation period

The on set period is the time between consuming the contamination food and the first sighs of illness.

The food vehicle

The food vehicle is the food consumed that contains the causative agent.

The source

The source is the point from which the causative agent first enters the specific food chain, for example, a cow or a hen. It may also be considered to be the vehicle that brings the responsible for the outbreak, for example, a person, raw mill or an egg.