More often than not, the "something I ate" that made you sick was not the food itself, but a bacterium, virus or parasite.
There are more than 200 known diseases that can be transmitted through food. And it is estimated that one in five Americans gets ill from at least one of them every year.
Based on outbreak reports submitted to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and period surveys and studies of food-borne illness, here are the major contributors to fatal food.
Noroviruses (Norwalk-like viruses)
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache and low-grade fever. Symptoms usually appear within 24 to 48 hours of infection and last one or two days.
Sources: Shellfish, raw vegetables, eggs, water, ice.
Symptoms: Headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, fever and loss of appetite. Symptoms appear six to 72 hours after ingesting the bug, and last two or three days.
Sources: Typically from undercooked meats or eggs, milk, cheese, produce.
Symptoms: Fever, headache, muscle pain, followed by diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea. Symptoms appear two to five days after eating. The illness may last up to 10 days.
Sources: Poultry, milk, water.
Symptoms: Severe abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes fever. Can cause a condition that leads to kidney failure and, rarely, disease in the brain, seizures, coma, blood clots in the brain. Symptoms usually show up within one to eight days after ingestion.
Sources: There are hundreds of different strains of this pathogen. It has been found in raw and undercooked meats, cheeses, lettuce and other produce, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, raw fish, cream pies and mashed potatoes.
Symptoms: Caused by toxins produced by the organism. Double vision, droopy eyelids, trouble speaking and swallowing, difficulty breathing and paralysis. Usually appear in four to 36 hours, but can come up to eight days after eating.
Sources: Canned foods, garlic in oil, smoked foods.
Symptoms: Abrupt fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, jaundice, dark urine and joint aches. Usually occur within 15 to 50 days of infection.
Source: Any food not cooked after handling, raw or undercooked shellfish from contaminated waters.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, cramps and chills, sometimes fever. Usually appear in 12 to 96 hours, but can come up to a week after eating. Duration usually four to seven days.
Sources: Raw produce and many ready-to-eat foods, including potato, tuna and macaroni salads that haven't been handled properly. Can also be spread by flies.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, cramps, pain, vomiting with some types. Symptoms come six to 15 hours after eating, and last about 24 hours.
Sources: Meats, milk, vegetables, fish, starchy foods and cheese.
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, headaches, delirium, shock and lesions on vital organs. Can cause miscarriage in pregnant women, brain damage to newborns.
Sources: Mainly from meat and poultry, can also be found on vegetables and fruit, in milk and cheese.
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, cramps, subnormal temperature and lowered blood pressure. Onset within 30 minutes to seven hours of eating. May last one or two days.
Sources: Contaminated, ready-to-eat, high-protein foods such as meat, poultry and dairy products that haven't been kept properly cooled.
(Sources: CDC, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Restaurant Association.)