Food Poisoning Basics

Learn about the causes, signs, and symptoms of food poisoning and tips for how to prevent yourself and your family from getting sick.

KEY FACTS:

  • Every year, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.
  • Anybody can get food poisoning (also called foodborne illness).
  • But the following groups are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness:
Graphic of an adult man

 

Adults aged 65 and older

Graphic of an adult man

 

Children younger than age 5

Graphic of a bottle of medicine

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

Graphic of a pregnant woman

 

Pregnant women

You should not eat these foods if you are more likely to get food poisoning:

  •  Undercooked or raw animal products, such as meat, chicken, turkey, eggs, seafood
  • Raw or lightly cooked sprouts
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and juices
  • Soft cheese, such as queso fresco, unless it is made with pasteurized milk
Take Steps to Prevent Food Poisoning
1. Clean
Graphic of clean dishes

Wash hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces often when you cook.

2. Separate
Graphic of food being separated.

Keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs. Use separate cutting boards and plates.

3. Cook
Graphic of clean dishes

Cook food to the right temperature to kill germs. Use a food thermometer to check.

4. Chill
Graphic of clean dishes

Refrigerate perishable food and leftovers within 2 hours (within 1 hour if it is hotter than 90°F outside).