Key Facts About Food Poisoning
What You Need to Know
- Symptoms of food poisoning often include diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, or nausea.
- Anyone can get food poisoning, but some groups of people are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness.
- Infographic: Food Poisoning: Protect Yourself and Your Family pdf icon[PDF – 1 page]
Every year, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.
Four Steps to Prevent Food Poisoning
- Cleanexternal icon
- Wash your hands and work surfaces before, during, and after preparing food. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops.
- Separateexternal icon
- Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from ready-to-eat foods. Use separate cutting boards and keep raw meat away from other foods in your shopping cart and refrigerator.
- Cookexternal icon
- Cook food to the right internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer.
- Chillexternal icon
- Keep your refrigerator 40°F or below. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking (or within 1 hour if food is exposed to a temperature above 90°F, like in a hot car).
Some People Are at Higher Risk
Anyone can get food poisoning, but some groups of people are more likely to get sick and have a more serious illness. Their ability to fight germs and sickness may not be as effective. These groups include:
- Adults aged 65 and older
- Children younger than age 5
- People whose immune systems are weakened by health conditions or medicine used to treat them, including people with diabetes, liver or kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, or cancer
- Pregnant people
People who are more likely to get food poisoning should not eat:
- Undercooked or raw food from animals (such as beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, or seafood)
- Raw or lightly cooked sprouts
- Unpasteurized (raw) milk and juices
- Soft cheese (such as queso fresco), unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk
Five Symptoms of Severe Food Poisoning
Symptoms of food poisoning often include diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, or nausea.
Call your healthcare provider if you have severe symptoms such as:
- Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
- Diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving
- Bloody diarrhea
- So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down, which can lead to dehydration
- Dehydration, which causes symptoms such as dry mouth and throat, feeling dizzy when standing up, and not urinating (peeing) much
Read other food safety features to learn more about protecting yourself and your loved ones from food poisoning.