Causes of Clostridium perfringens infection

Learn about the causes of Clostridium perfringens infection, how it is spread and where it is found.

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Causes Clostridium perfringens infection

Clostridium perfringens is a common cause of food poisoning. When ingested in large numbers, these bacteria can produce a poison (toxin) in human intestines that causes illness.

How Clostridium perfringens infection is spread

You can become infected with Clostridium perfringens by eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria.

This type of infection is not spread from person to person.

Where it is found

Clostridium perfringens bacteria can be found in contaminated food that has been:

  • cooked slowly
  • cooled too slowly
  • kept too warm in storage
  • reheated to a temperature that is too low

How food and water become contaminated

Clostridium perfringens bacteria are found naturally in environments, such as:

  • soil
  • dust
  • sewage

The bacteria will grow:

  • when in contact with food
  • at temperatures from 12°C to 60°C (68°F to 140°F)

When food is left out at these temperatures, a large number of bacteria can develop, which when ingested, may cause illness. Contaminated food typically needs to have large numbers of bacteria to cause illness.

Normal cooking temperatures will not kill the bacteria.

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