FoodBorne Illness

Foodborne illness results from eating foods that are contaminated with harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Common symptoms of foodborne illness include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, headache and vomiting. These symptoms may come on as early as a half hour after eating contaminated food or may not develop for up to two weeks. They usually last only a day or two, but in some cases can persist a week or more.

For most healthy people, foodborne illnesses are neither long lasting nor life threatening. However, the consequences can be severe and may require hospitalization and even lead to death in the very young, the very old and those with weakened immune systems.

How to Keep Foods Safe

Food safety experts urge consumers to think about food safety at each step in the food handling process – from shopping or bringing takeout foods home to storing leftovers. So Fight BAC!™ by following these four simple steps:

Cooking and Storing Food

Food must be cooked to an appropriate temperature to kill any bacteria that have the potential to cause illness. It is often impossible to tell by looking at a food if it is done; therefore, it is recommended to use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature before serving. Visit for information on minimum cooking temperatures. Unsure of how long certain foods will last in the refrigerator or freezer? Visit for more information on food storage.

Safe Kitchen Tips

Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

• Clean your kitchen: sink, drain, disposal, counters, refrigerator handle, shelves and drawers. Wipe clean and air dry.

• Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

• Clean cutting boards. Acrylic, plastic, glass and SOLID wood boards can be washed in a dishwasher. Throw away any board when it’s too knife-scarred

• Clean sponges. Wash daily in dishwasher.

• Use cleaning solutions. Choose FDA-registered antibacterial products or make one by mixing 3 teaspoons of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.

• Use a clean dishtowel every day. Use paper towels for handling raw meat or poultry.

For more information visit:
Fight Bac: Partnership for Food Safety Education
Fight Bac: Least Wanted Pathogens
Fight Bac: Food Borne Illness – Causes & Symptoms
CDC: Estimate of Food Borne Illness in the United States
Fight Bac: Cook to Safe Temperatures
Food – Storage Times for Freezer and Refrigerator
Food – Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures

Information adapted from Fight BAC Partnership for Food Safety Education