Western UP Health Department

Leading The Community Toward Better Health

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Foodborne illness or food poisoning is a common and preventable. The CDC estimates that nearly 1 in 6 Americans become sick from food poisoning each year. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

Symptoms and Sources of Common Food Poisoning Germs

Some germs make you sick within a few hours after you swallow them. Others may take a few days to make you sick. This list provides the symptoms, when symptoms begin, and common food sources for germs that cause food poisoning. The germs are arranged in order of how quickly symptoms begin.

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Some People Are at Higher Risk

Anyone can get food poisoning, but some groups of people are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness. Their ability to fight germs and sickness is not as effective for various reasons. These groups include:

  • Adults age 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 women

Foodborne Illness Prevention

Foodborne illness is common but preventable. Following four simple steps at home—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—can help protect you and your family from food poisoning.

Clean — 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.

Separate — 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.

Cook — Cook food to the recommended internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer.

Chill — 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).