Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling

Topic Overview

Is this topic for you?

This topic is about many different types of food poisoning. For more information on E. coli and toxoplasmosis, see the topics E. coli Infection and Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating foods that have harmful organisms in them. These harmful germs can include bacteria, parasites, and viruses. They are mostly found in raw meat, chicken, fish, and eggs, but they can spread to any type of food. They can also grow on food that is left out on counters or outdoors or is stored too long before you eat it. Sometimes food poisoning happens when people do not wash their hands before they touch food.

Most of the time, food poisoning is mild and goes away after a few days. All you can do is wait for your body to get rid of the germ that is causing the illness. But some types of food poisoning may be more serious, and you may need to see a doctor.

What are the symptoms?

The first symptom of food poisoning is usually diarrhea. You may also feel sick to your stomach, vomit, or have stomach cramps. How you feel when you have food poisoning mostly depends on how healthy you are and what germ is making you sick.

If you vomit or have diarrhea a lot, you can get dehydrated. Dehydration means that your body has lost too much fluid. Watch for signs of dehydration, which include having a dry mouth, feeling lightheaded, and passing only a little dark urine. Children and the elderly can get dehydrated very quickly and should be watched closely. Pregnant women should always call a doctor if they think they may have food poisoning.

How do harmful germs get into food?

Germs can get into food when:

  • Meat is processed. It is normal to find bacteria in the intestines of healthy animals that we use for food. Sometimes the bacteria get mixed up with the parts of those animals that we eat.
  • The food is watered or washed. If the water used to irrigate or wash fresh fruits and vegetables has germs from animal manure or human sewage in it, those germs can get on the fruits and vegetables.
  • The food is prepared. When someone who has germs on his or her hands touches the food, or if the food touches other food that has germs on it, the germs can spread. For example, if you use the same cutting board for chopping vegetables and preparing raw meat, germs from the raw meat can get on the vegetables.

How will you know if you have food poisoning?

Because most food poisoning is mild and goes away after a few days, most people do not go to the doctor. You can usually assume that you have food poisoning if other people who ate the same food also got sick.

If you think you have food poisoning, call your local health department to report it. This could help keep others from getting sick.

Call your doctor if you think you may have a serious illness. If your diarrhea or vomiting is very bad or if you do not start to get better after a few days, you may need to see your doctor.

If you do go to the doctor, he or she will ask you about your symptoms (diarrhea, feeling sick to your stomach, or throwing up), ask about your health in general, and do a physical exam. Your doctor will ask about where you have been eating and whether anyone who ate the same foods is also sick. Sometimes the doctor will take stool or blood samples and have them tested.

How is it treated?

In most cases, food poisoning goes away on its own in 2 to 3 days. All you need to do is rest and get plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Drink a cup of water or rehydration drink (such as Lytren, Pedialyte, or Rehydralyte) each time you have a large, loose stool. You can also use a sports drink, such as Gatorade. Soda and fruit juices have too much sugar and should not be used to rehydrate. Doctors recommend trying to eat normally as soon as possible. When you can eat without vomiting, try to eat the kind of foods you usually do. But try to stay away from foods that are high in fat or sugar.

Antibiotics are usually not used to treat food poisoning. Medicines that stop diarrhea (antidiarrheals) can be helpful, but they should not be given to infants or young children.

If you think you are severely dehydrated, you may need to go to the hospital. And in some severe cases, such as for botulism or E. coli infection, you may need medical care right away.

How can you prevent food poisoning?

You can prevent most cases of food poisoning with these simple steps:

  • Clean. Wash your hands often and always before you touch food. Keep your knives, cutting boards, and counters clean. You can wash them with hot, soapy water, or put items in the dishwasher and use a disinfectant on your counter. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Separate. Keep germs from raw meat from getting on fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, not back on the one that held the raw meat.
  • Cook. Make sure that meat, chicken, fish, and eggs are fully cooked.
  • Chill. Refrigerate leftovers right away. Don't leave cut fruits and vegetables at room temperature for a long time.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. If you are not sure if a food is safe, don't eat it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about food poisoning and safe food handling:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Living with food poisoning:

Cause

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating or drinking contaminated food. For example, you can get food poisoning by eating food contaminated by harmful organisms, such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

The most common ways that harmful organisms are spread are:

  • During food processing. It is normal to find bacteria in the intestines of healthy animals that we use for food. If bacteria come in contact with meat or poultry during processing, they can contaminate the food. Campylobacter, salmonella, and E. coli are often spread in this way. In one test, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that campylobacter was present in almost half of the raw chicken breasts tested.1
  • During food growing. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed or irrigated with water that is contaminated with animal manure or human sewage. Staph food poisoning, E. coli, and shigellosis are often spread through contaminated water.
  • During food handling. Food can be contaminated when an infected person handles the food or if it comes in contact with another contaminated product. For example, if you use the same cutting board for both chopping vegetables and preparing raw meat, you risk contaminating the vegetables.
  • Through the environment. Many harmful organisms that are commonly found in dirt, dust, and water can find their way into the foods we eat. These organisms include Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium perfringens, and Cryptosporidium parvum. Environmental conditions—such as water polluted by farm runoff—may make this type of infection more frequent.

Follow the links below for more information, including how specific organisms are spread:

Toxoplasmosis and listeriosis are dangerous to a pregnant woman and her fetus. For more information on toxoplasmosis, see the topic Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.

For information on E. coli O157:H7, see the topic E. coli Infection. Other types of E. coli infection (enterotoxigenic E. coli) are frequent in the developing world and are a major cause of traveler's diarrhea.

Symptoms

The symptoms of food poisoning usually affect your stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract).

  • The first symptom is usually diarrhea.
  • Other symptoms include feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), vomiting, and abdominal cramps.

The time it takes for symptoms to appear, how severe the symptoms are, and how long the symptoms last depend on the infecting organism, your age, and your overall health.

The very young and the very old may be most affected by food poisoning. Their symptoms may last longer, and even the types of food poisoning that are typically mild can be life-threatening. This may also be true for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems, such as those with long-lasting (chronic) illnesses.

Not all food poisoning results in diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Some types of food poisoning have different or more severe symptoms. These can include weakness, numbness, confusion, or tingling of the face, hands, and feet.

Follow the links below for more information, including specific symptoms for each organism:

Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, can also be caused by organisms that are not necessarily spread through food. These organisms are mainly spread through water or personal contact. Conditions caused by these organisms include infection with the parasite Giardia lamblia.

What Happens

You may become ill with food poisoning after you eat food that contains bacteria, viruses, or other harmful organisms. Most cases of food poisoning follow the same general course.

After you eat a contaminated food, there is an hours-to-days delay before you notice symptoms. The contaminating organism passes through the stomach into the intestine, attaches to the intestinal walls, and begins to multiply. Some organisms stay in the intestine, some produce a toxin that is absorbed into the bloodstream, and others directly invade body tissues. Your symptoms depend greatly on the type of organism that has infected you.

Different organisms cause similar symptoms, especially diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Diarrhea and vomiting are a normal response as the body tries to rid itself of harmful organisms. Unless the illness is part of a recognized outbreak, it is difficult to identify the infecting organism and laboratory tests are usually not done.

In most cases, you recover in a few days to a week as toxins are flushed from your system. You may feel weak for several days after other symptoms go away.

Most of the time food poisoning is mild and passes in a few days. But the symptoms and course of some types of food poisoning may be more severe.

  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism) produces toxins that paralyze the nerves and the muscles. Botulism symptoms usually begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated foods and include weakness and double vision. Paralysis progresses from the head to the rest of the body. Intensive care, including mechanical ventilation, is needed to support failing breathing. Because of aggressive medical care and the availability of antitoxin, most people who are infected with botulism live. Recovery may take months, and people are often weak and tire easily for as long as a year after the initial disease.
  • Toxoplasmosis often has no symptoms, or the symptoms are flu-like. You may have swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to several weeks. Toxoplasmosis is dangerous to a pregnant woman and her fetus. For more information, see the topic Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.
  • Salmonellosis may last more than a week and require hospitalization.
  • Listeriosis symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If the infection spreads to the brain and nervous system, then symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur. A pregnant woman may experience only a mild, flu-like illness. Infections during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, serious infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

Rarely, food poisoning can result in kidney or joint damage.2

What Increases Your Risk

People at increased risk of becoming ill with food poisoning and of having more severe symptoms include:

Factors that increase your risk for developing food poisoning include:

  • Eating or drinking unpasteurized juices, raw sprouts, unpasteurized milk, and milk products made from unpasteurized milk, such as certain soft cheeses.
  • Eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and shellfish (clams, oysters, scallops, and mussels).
  • Eating or drinking food that has been contaminated through careless food processing or handling.
  • Traveling to a developing country.

When To Call a Doctor

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if:

  • You have signs of severe dehydration. These include little or no urine; sunken eyes, no tears, and a dry mouth and tongue; fast breathing and heartbeat; feeling very dizzy or lightheaded; and not feeling or acting alert.
  • You think you may have food poisoning from a canned food and you have symptoms of botulism (blurred or double vision, trouble swallowing or breathing, and muscle weakness).

Call your doctor immediately if:

  • You have severe diarrhea (large amounts of loose stool every 1 to 2 hours) that lasts longer than 2 days if you are an adult.
  • You have vomiting that lasts longer than 1 day if you are an adult.
  • You are pregnant and believe that you have been exposed to listeriosis or toxoplasmosis. For more information on toxoplasmosis, see the topic Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.
  • You have sudden, severe belly pain.

Talk to your doctor if:

  • You have symptoms of mild dehydration (dry mouth, dark urine, not much urine) that get worse even with home treatment.
  • You have a fever.
  • You are not feeling better after 1 week of home treatment.

If you think you have eaten contaminated food, your local Poison Control Center can answer questions and provide information on what to do next. Poison Control Centers are usually listed with other emergency numbers in your telephone book.

Children, pregnant women, and people with long-lasting (chronic) conditions, such as diabetes, are more likely to have severe dehydration and should be watched closely for symptoms. For more information, see the topics Diarrhea, Age 11 and Younger, Diarrhea, Age 12 and Older, and Dehydration.

Watchful Waiting

Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your health professional observe your symptoms or condition without using medical treatment. Watchful waiting may be appropriate if you have diarrhea, stomach cramps, and other symptoms of stomach flu (gastroenteritis). You usually recover from these gastrointestinal illnesses at home in several days without medical treatment. Likewise, some cases of bacterial food poisoning are mild and pass in several days. But if diarrhea is severe or persists longer than a week, call your health professional for advice.

Who To See

Health professionals who are able to diagnose and treat food poisoning include:

You may be referred to a gastroenterologist if your symptoms are persistent or severe.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

Exams and Tests

Since most food poisoning is mild and passes in a few days, most people do not go to a health professional for a diagnosis. You can often diagnose food poisoning yourself if others who ate the same food as you also become ill.

If you do go to your health professional, he or she will make the diagnosis based on your symptoms, a physical exam, and your medical history. Your health professional will ask where you have been eating and whether anyone who ate the same food has the same symptoms.

Occasionally the following tests are done.

Your health professional may need to report your condition to the health department; this is done to help the government track the condition and identify possible outbreaks.

Treatment Overview

In most cases, the diarrhea and other symptoms of food poisoning go away in 2 to 3 days, and you do not need treatment. It may be longer than 2 to 3 days until you feel normal again.

All you have to do is manage symptoms, especially diarrhea, and avoid complications until the illness passes. In most cases, dehydration caused by diarrhea is the main complication.

The goal of treatment is to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through vomiting and diarrhea. If dehydration is severe and cannot be managed at home, you may need treatment in the hospital, where fluids and electrolytes may be given to you by inserting a needle into your vein (intravenously).

To prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Lytren, Pedialyte, or Rehydralyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink for each large, loose stool you have. You can also use a sports drink, such as Gatorade. Soda and fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough of the important electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea and should only be taken alternately with a rehydration drink. You can make your own rehydration drink.

Try to stick to your normal diet as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a normal diet will also help you feel better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have disappeared.

Medicines that stop diarrhea (such as Imodium) can help with your symptoms. But these medicines should not be used in children or if you have a high fever or bloody diarrhea. Antibiotics are rarely used and only for certain types of food poisoning or in severe cases. Pregnant women with listeriosis or toxoplasmosis may receive antibiotics.

Children

Extra precautions should be taken to prevent dehydration in children.

  • Symptoms of mild dehydration in your child include being irritable, agitated, fussy, or restless and urinating less frequently than usual.
  • Symptoms of moderate dehydration include a decreased interest in play, sunken eyes with few tears, and urinating fewer than 3 times in 24 hours.
  • Symptoms of severe dehydration include a lack of interest in playing, extreme sleepiness, a dry mouth and tongue, fast breathing, a rapid heartbeat, and not urinating for more than 12 hours. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

For children who are breast-feeding or bottle-feeding, continue the regular breast milk or formula feeding as much as possible. You may have to feed at more frequent intervals to replace lost fluids. Give an oral rehydration solution (ORS), such as Pedialyte, between feedings only if you see signs of dehydration.

For older children, give 1/2 cup [4 fl oz (118 mL)] to 1 cup [8 fl oz (237 mL)] of water, milk, or a rehydration drink each hour, and try to keep feeding your child his or her usual diet. Foods to try include potatoes, chicken breast without the skin, cereal, yogurt, and fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid foods that have a lot of fat or sugar. Supplement feedings with small sips or spoonfuls of a rehydration drink or clear liquid every few minutes.

For more information on treating diarrhea or dehydration, see the topics Diarrhea, Age 11 and Younger, Diarrhea, Age 12 and Older, and Dehydration.

Follow the links below for more information, including specific treatment for each organism:

Botulism, E. coli infection, and infection during pregnancy

For botulism food poisoning, immediate and intensive medical care is usually needed. This care includes:

  • Giving botulism antitoxin to adults within 72 hours after symptoms are first observed.
  • Giving botulism immune globulin (BIG) to infants less than 1 year old.
  • Mechanical breathing assistance from a ventilator.

Treatment of E. coli O157:H7 infection generally consists of managing the complications, mainly dehydration caused by diarrhea. If you develop symptoms of severe blood or kidney problems, such as anemia or kidney failure, you may have to go to the hospital. Treatment of E. coli O157:H7 may include:

  • Monitoring of fluids and essential minerals.
  • Dialysis to filter waste products from your blood. Some people with kidney failure caused by E. coli O157:H7 infection require dialysis.
  • Blood transfusion to treat anemia by giving you additional oxygen-rich red blood cells.

Most healthy adults recover from E. coli O157:H7 infections in 5 to 10 days without the need for medicine. Antibiotics are usually not recommended, and medicines that stop diarrhea are not used to treat the infection. For more information, see the topic E. coli Infection.

If you are pregnant, all food poisoning can be more severe, and toxoplasmosis and listeriosis can be dangerous to your fetus. If you are diagnosed with either of these conditions during pregnancy, you will be treated with antibiotics. For more information on toxoplasmosis, see the topic Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.

What To Think About

Babies and young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with impaired immune systems are more likely to become ill with food poisoning and have complications. These people should seek medical care if they or their caregivers think they may have food poisoning. Pregnant women should always consult their health professionals if they feel they may have food poisoning, because the infection can be passed on to the fetus.

Prevention

You can prevent most cases of food poisoning by being careful when preparing and storing food. Wash your hands and working surfaces while preparing food, cook foods to safe temperatures, and refrigerate foods promptly. Be especially careful when cooking or heating perishable foods, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, and milk products. You should also take extra care if you are pregnant, have an impaired immune system, or are preparing foods for children or older people.

The following steps can help prevent food poisoning (adapted from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

  • Shop safely. Bag raw meat, poultry, and fish separately from other food items. Young children can get sick from touching packaged poultry, so don't allow them to touch or play with packages of poultry in your grocery cart. Drive home immediately after finishing your shopping so you can store all foods promptly.
  • Prepare foods safely. Wash your hands before and after handling food. Also wash them after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables by rinsing them well with running water. If possible, use two cutting boards—one for fresh produce and the other for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Otherwise, be sure to wash the cutting board with hot, soapy water between each use. You can also wash your knives and cutting boards in the dishwasher to disinfect them.
  • Store foods safely. Cook, refrigerate, or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and ready-to-eat foods within 2 hours. Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F (4°C) or colder.
  • Cook foods safely. Use a clean meat thermometer to determine whether foods are cooked to a safe temperature. Reheat leftovers to at least 165°F (74°C). Do not eat undercooked hamburger, and be aware of the risk of food poisoning from raw fish (including sushi), clams, and oysters.
  • Serve foods safely. Keep cooked hot foods hot [140°F (60°C) or above] and cold foods cold [40°F (4°C) or below].
  • Follow labels on food packaging. Food packaging labels provide information about when to use the food and how to store it. Reading food labels and following safety instructions will reduce your chances of becoming ill with food poisoning.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. If you are not sure whether a food is safe, don't eat it. Reheating food that is contaminated will not make it safe. Don't taste suspicious food. It may smell and look fine but still may not be safe to eat.

It is important to pay particular attention to food preparation and storage during warm months when food is often served outside. Bacteria grow faster in warmer weather, so food can spoil more quickly and possibly cause illness. Do not leave food outdoors for more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F (32°C), and never leave it outdoors for more than 2 hours.

Many counties in the United States have extension services listed in the phone book. These services can answer your questions about safe home canning and food preparation.

Follow the links below to find specific information, including prevention, for each organism:

Home Treatment

Most cases of food poisoning will go away in a few days with rest and care at home. The following information will help you recover.

Prevent dehydration

Dehydration is the most frequent complication of food poisoning. Older persons and children should take special precautions to prevent it.

To prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Lytren, Pedialyte, or Rehydralyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink for each large, loose stool you have. Sports drinks, soda pop, and fruit juices contain too much sugar and not enough of the important electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea and should only be taken alternately with a rehydration drink. You can make your own rehydration drink.

Try to stick to your normal diet as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a normal diet will also help you feel better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have disappeared.

Children

Take extra precautions to prevent dehydration in children.

  • Symptoms of mild dehydration in your child can include being irritable, agitated, fussy, or restless and urinating less frequently than usual.
  • Symptoms of moderate dehydration can include a decreased interest in play, sunken eyes with few tears, and urinating fewer than 3 times in 24 hours.
  • Symptoms of severe dehydration can include a lack of interest in playing, extreme sleepiness, a dry mouth and tongue, fast breathing, a rapid heartbeat, and not urinating for more than 12 hours. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

For children who are breast-feeding or bottle-feeding, continue the regular breast milk or formula feeding as much as possible. You may have to feed at more frequent intervals to replace lost fluids. Give an oral rehydration solution (ORS), such as Pedialyte, between feedings only if you see signs of dehydration.

For older children, give 1/2 cup [4 fl oz (118 mL)] to 1 cup [8 fl oz (237 mL)] of water, milk, or a rehydration drink each hour, and try to keep feeding your child his or her usual diet. Foods to try include potatoes, chicken breast without the skin, cereal, yogurt, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid foods that have a lot of fat or sugar. Supplement feedings with small sips or spoonfuls of a rehydration drink or clear liquid every few minutes.

For more information on treating diarrhea or dehydration, see the topics Diarrhea, Age 11 and Younger, Diarrhea, Age 12 and Older, and Dehydration.

Antidiarrheal medicines

Medicines that stop diarrhea (such as Imodium) can reduce the severity and length of simple diarrhea. Using them may help with your symptoms. Antidiarrheal medicines should not be used if you have a fever or bloody diarrhea because they can actually make you sicker. Do not give antidiarrheals to children.

Medications

Medicines are not used routinely in food poisoning. Medicines that stop diarrhea (antidiarrheals) can help with your symptoms. But do not use antidiarrheals if you have a high fever or bloody diarrhea, and do not give antidiarrheals to children.

Antibiotics are not needed for most cases of food poisoning, but they can be helpful in severe cases. On the other hand, antibiotics can make some kinds of food poisoning worse by causing toxins to build up in your body. Doctors try to use antibiotics only when they are really needed, because overuse can lead to resistance in bacteria and other organisms.

Types of food poisoning that may be treated with medicines include:

  • Botulism, which usually requires the botulism antitoxin and close medical care.
  • Listeriosis, which in pregnant women is treated with antibiotics to prevent infection of the fetus or newborn. Babies with listeriosis may also receive antibiotics.
  • Toxoplasmosis food poisoning, which in pregnant women is treated with antibiotics. For more information, see the topic Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.
  • Shigellosis, which may be treated with antibiotics. But some types of Shigella bacteria are not killed by antibiotics. This is called resistance. Because using antibiotics can make these bacteria even more resistant, mild cases of shigellosis are not usually treated with antibiotics.

For information on medicines and treating E. coli O157:H7, see the topic E. coli Infection.

Surgery

There is no surgical treatment for food poisoning.

Other Treatment

There is no other treatment for food poisoning.

Other Places To Get Help

Organizations

American Dietetic Association's Home Food Safety
120 South Riverside Plaza
Suite 2000
Chicago, IL  60606-6995
Phone: 1-800-877-1600, extension 4793
E-mail: foundation@eatright.org
Web Address: www.homefoodsafety.org
 

This Web site, sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, provides information on how you can prepare food safely in your home. The Web site contains frequently asked questions, food safety tips, current news, and Spanish-language information.


Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD  20740-3835
Phone: 1-888-SAFE FOOD (1-888-723-3366)
TDD: 1-800-877-8339
Web Address: www.cfsan.fda.gov
 

The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is a part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CFSAN is responsible for promoting and protecting the nation's food supply. Its mission is to make sure that the food supply is sanitary and wholesome, and that both food and cosmetics are safe and honestly labeled. The Web site has information on recent news, national food safety programs, and program areas such as color additives, dietary supplements, and infant formula. It also provides info on areas of special interest and selected non-FDA resources. The "Bad Bug Book" can be found here in the food-borne illness section.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Food Safety Office
1600 Clifton Road NE, MS-D63
Atlanta, GA  30033
Phone: (404) 639-2213
TDD: 1-888-232-6348
E-mail: cdcinfo@cdc.gov
Web Address: www.cdc.gov/foodsafety
 

This Web site has general information on outbreak investigations, an overview of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) food safety programs and activities, and other educational resources. One of these resources is the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, known as FoodNet, which is sponsored by CDC and its Emerging Infections Program (EIP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FoodNet monitors food-borne diseases and helps public health officials better understand food-borne diseases in the United States.


Fight Bac: Partnership for Food Safety Education
50 F Street NW
Suite 6th Floor
Washington, DC  20001
Phone: (202) 220-0651
Fax: (202) 220-0873
E-mail: info@fightbac.org
Web Address: www.fightbac.org
 

The Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) is a group that works with industry associations, consumer groups, the U.S. government, and professional societies in food science, nutrition, and health to educate the public about safe food handling. The organization offers a "Fight Bac" campaign that teaches the four steps—clean, separate, cook, and chill—that can reduce the risk of food-borne illness. The PFSE Web site contains food safety brochures, press releases, and other materials for educators and consumers. The site also provides tips on working within your community to promote food safety and has a special section for children.


National Food Safety Information Network, U.S. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD  20740
Phone: 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)
Web Address: www.foodsafety.gov
 

This U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site links people to information about food safety. This site has news and safety alerts, videos, and consumer advice on food handling, disaster assistance, reporting a problem from suspected food contamination, and more. More information can also be found at www.cfsan.fda.gov/list.html.


USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC  20250-3700
Phone: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) meat and poultry hotline
TDD: 1-800-256-7072
E-mail: mphotline.fsis@usda.gov
Web Address: www.fsis.usda.gov and www.AskKaren.gov
 

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service sees that the supply of meat, poultry, and egg products in the United States is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. Its Web site has extensive information on food safety, food preparation, food poisoning, and food labeling. It provides phone numbers and e-mail addresses to use to ask for information on food poisoning, food safety, and food safety education programs. The Web site also allows the public to ask questions through an interactive feature called "Ask Karen."


References

Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Campylobacter Infections. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/campylobacter_gi.html.
  2. Anderson WT (2004). Food-borne and water-borne diseases. In JE Tintinalli et al., eds., Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 6th ed., pp. 964–969. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Other Works Consulted

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004). Diagnosis and management of foodborne illness. A primer for physicians and other health care professionals. MMWR, 53(RR–4): 1–32.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Escherichia coli. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/stec_gi.html.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Listeriosis. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/listeriosis_gi.html.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Salmonellosis. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/salmonellosis_gi.html.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Shigellosis. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/shigellosis_gi.html.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). Toxoplasmosis. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/toxoplasmosis/factsheet.html.
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (2006). Foodborne Illness: What Consumers Need To Know. Available online: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact%5FSheets/Foodborne_Illness_What_Consumers_Need_to_Know/index.asp.
  • Fry AM, et al. (2005). Foodborne disease. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1286–1301. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (2006). Fact sheet. Safe Food Handling: Basics for Handling Food Safely. Available online: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Basics_for_Handling_Food_Safely/index.asp.

Credits

Author Bets Davis, MFA
Editor Maria Essig
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Terrina Vail
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Ruth Schneider, MPH, RD - Diet and Nutrition
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Updated February 23, 2009

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.