Section IV. THE POISON PROBLEM
2-11. POISONOUS PLANTS AND ANIMALS
a. Certain plants and animals are poisonous and should not be used as food.
b. Plants and animals may be naturally toxic to man. There are hundreds of
poisonous plants, including common ones such as certain mushrooms, toadstools,
water hemlock, jimson weed, and the castor bean plant. Of particular importance is the
mushroom. Poisonous and nonpoisonous mushrooms look alike, so much so that only
a trained person can tell the difference. Some clams, mussels, and tropical fish are
poisonous and have caused outbreaks of foodborne illness. Examining these
poisonous animals for appearance, odor, and discoloration does not clearly indicate
whether they are toxic or not. Most animal toxins are resistant to heat and cannot be
destroyed by normal cooking temperatures.
c. The tissues of other animals may be naturally safe for man. However, certain
circumstances may cause them to become contaminated with poisonous substances
and make them toxic if consumed. Some fish, for example, may become poisonous at
certain times of the year; other fish and shellfish may be contaminated by polluted
waters and are toxic to man if eaten.
d. Illness caused by these toxic foods may occur within a few minutes after their
consumption and is often fatal. Cooking the food usually does not destroy the poison in
the food that causes the illness. The best way to avoid accidentally eating a poisonous
plant or animal is to use approved food sources.
2-12. CHEMICAL POISONING
a. Chemicals are everywhere in our environment. There is always the danger of
consuming chemicals with food. Without adequate controls, there would be many more
outbreaks of foodborne illness due to chemicals.
b. Chemicals containing toxic metals such as cadmium, zinc (galvanized),
antimony, copper, and lead have caused poisonings. All of these metals may dissolve
in certain types of acid foods such as fruit punch drinks, and produce a toxic or
poisonous substance. When the beverage is consumed, the persons consuming it
become ill within minutes.
c. Many of the chemicals used in cleaning and sanitizing solutions are toxic and
must be handled so they are not introduced into food.
d. Chemicals used to control insects and rodents are, by their very mature,
intended to kill. If used improperly or accidentally mixed with food or drink, they can
cause severe illness or death. The care and handling of pesticides is an important part