Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 395–401 | Cite as

Death by food

  • Roger W. ByardEmail author


Although death from food is not an uncommon finding in forensic facilities worldwide, the range of underlying lethal mechanisms and associated conditions that should be sought at the time of autopsy is quite disparate. Deaths may occur from i) infectious agents including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, cestodes, nematodes and prions; ii) natural toxins including amanita toxins, tetrodotoxin, ciguatera and scombroid; iii) anaphylaxis; iv) poisoning; v) mechanical issues around airway and gut obstruction and/or perforation; and vi) miscellaneous causes. Food-related deaths are important in terms of global mortality, and thus autopsies need to be comprehensive with full ancillary testing. Medicolegal matters may involve issues concerning likely exposure to infectious agents, possible foods ingested, the declared content and possible components of food, the significance of toxicological analyses, and aspects of duty of care in cases of café coronary syndrome and gastroenteritis while in care.


Food Infections Gastroenteritis Toxins Poisoning Café coronary 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. Approval to report the case was given by Forensic Science SA, Adelaide Australia.


This study was not funded.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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