Foodborne illness, also called “foodborne disease” or “food poisoning”, is a common, costly public health issue. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. There are hundreds of foodborne diseases that are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In addition, poisonous chemicals, or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if present in food.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year roughly 48,000,000 people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.
The most common symptoms of foodborne illnesses include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the germ that is making you sick.
After you eat the contaminated food there is a delay before symptoms begin. This delay may range from hours to days, depending on what is consumed.
- Wash your hands and surfaces often. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and follow these 4 simple steps at foodsafety.gov.
- Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat-foods, unless you keep them separate.
- Cook to the right temperature. While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry.
- Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate foods properly. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them.