Be Food Safe: Protect Yourself from Food Poisoning
Anybody can get food poisoning, but most people don’t think about food safety until they or someone they know gets sick after eating contaminated food.
Foodborne illness, often called food poisoning, is a common, costly—yet preventable—public health problem. Each year, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Learn more about foodborne illnesses and what you can do to lower your chances of getting sick.
Common Foodborne Illnesses and Symptoms
The most common foodborne illnesses are norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. In most affected persons, symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, but in some cases, such life-threatening complications as organ failure occur.
In severe cases, foodborne illnesses can cause serious acute illness, long-term health problems or death. Young children, pregnant women, adults over 65, and people with weak immune systems are more likely to get food poisoning, and if they do get sick they might have more severe symptoms.
See your doctor or healthcare provider if you have:
- High fever (temperature over 101.5°F, measured orally).
- Blood in the stools.
- Frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.
- Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up.
- Diarrheal illness that lasts more than 3 days.
Be Food Safe: Learn the Risks and Rules
Anyone can get sick from eating contaminated food. To lower your chances of food poisoning, consider how germs found in contaminated food can make you sick. You can take action to protect yourself and your loved ones by keeping food safe.
Here are four simple steps to food safety:
Wash your hands and food-preparation 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.
Don’t cross-contaminate. Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.
Cook to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature:
- 145°F for whole beef, veal, and lamb, and fresh pork and ham (allowing the meat to cool for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), and for fin fish.
- 160°F for ground beef, veal, pork and lamb, and for egg dishes.
- 165°F for all poultry, including ground chicken and ground turkey, and stuffing, leftovers and casseroles.
Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate foods promptly. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them. (During the summer heat, cut that time down to 1 hour.) Check the FoodKeeper webpage or app to learn the best way to store foods and beverages, how to keep them fresh, and when to throw them away.
For more information about foodborne illness and food safety, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, e-mail CDC INFO, or visit these Web sites:
- Food Safety Information from CDC
- Ask Karen, Food Safety Education In Spanish Preguntele-a-Karen
For food safety educators:
- Be Food Safe’s Food Safety Education Programs
- Fight BAC!, Partnership for Food Safety Education
- CDC’s Food Safety Communication Resources
- Page last reviewed: September 27, 2018
- Page last updated: September 27, 2018
- Content source:
- National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs