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Foodborne illness

Foodborne illness is caused by consuming contaminated foods or beverages.
Foodborne illness (sometimes called food poisoning, foodborne disease, or foodborne infection) is common, costly, and preventable. Foods that lead to food poisoning are contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, or even harmful chemicals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food every year. Depending on the food poisoning germs involved, symptoms can be mild to severe and include nausea, vomiting, fever, body aches, and diarrhea.

If you think you got sick from something you ate, report it using the Utah Department of Health and Human Services I Got Sick: Foodborne Illness Complaint System.
Each year, about 48 million people get sick from food poisoning; 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 people die.
Anyone can get food poisoning, which is why it is important to learn about safe food handling practices and signs and symptoms of food poisoning.
Food poisoning is caused by eating or drinking contaminated foods and beverages.
Some foods are contaminated before they reach the kitchen. Others are contaminated by food handlers. In most cases, foodborne illness contamination can be prevented by good food handling practices.

The top 5 bacterias and viruses that cause food poisoning in the United States are:
  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella species
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Campylobacter species
  • Staphylococcus aureus

You should also be aware of germs that can cause severe reactions that may lead to hospitalization:
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Listeria species
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Vibrio species

Symptoms may differ depending on the type of food poisoning. Common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, fever, body aches, and diarrhea. Symptoms can be severe and some foodborne illnesses can be life-threatening, requiring medical attention. It can take hours or days for symptoms to appear after you eat or drink a contaminated food or beverage.

Most people with food poisoning get better without medical treatment and by staying hydrated. If you experience any of the following severe symptoms, see your medical provider:
  • High fever (temperature over 103°F)
  • Bloody stools
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down and/or staying hydrated
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
Food poisoning can happen to anyone; however those who are more likely to get sick and have a more severe case include:
  • Children
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems
Take action to protect yourself and your loved ones by keeping food safe.
Here are 5 simple steps to food safety:
  • Clean food preparation surfaces and wash your hands often.
  • Gently rub fresh fruits and vegetables while you hold them under running water. For firm produce, such as melons or cucumbers, scrub with a clean vegetable brush.
  • Don't cross-contaminate. Germs can spread even after you've cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly. It is best to keep foods such as raw meat, poultry, or eggs separate from other foods, like fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook all food to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Keep your refrigerator temperature below 40°F and refrigerate foods promptly. Germs can start to grow in food within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them (in the summer heat, cut that time down to 1 hour). Check the FoodKeeper webpage to learn the best way to store foods and beverages, how to keep them fresh, and when to throw them away.

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Utah Tracking receives restaurant safety data from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Epidemiology Environmental Sanitation Program. Salmonella, campylobacter and shiga toxin-producing E. coli data comes from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Epidemiology Disease Response, Evaluation, Assessment and Monitoring (DREAM) Program.
The links listed below redirect you to health assessments that have been conducted in Utah that are relevant to foodborne illness.

The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 25 May 2024 22:55:13 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 2 Aug 2022 12:10:41 MDT