SafeFood provides food safety information for consumers, educators, and those working in the food service industry. The information in these lessons is based on recommendations found in Food Code 2005. Food Code 2005 represents the most recent science-based information about good food safety practices.
Many people get sick each year from the food they eat. They may have diarrhea, vomiting, an upset stomach, fever, or cramps. They often think they have the flu, but the real problem is foodborne illness caused by bacteria in the food or viruses transmitted to food eaten a few hours or several days ago.
Even though the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, there are an estimated two million cases of foodborne illness each year. Reported cases of foodborne illness are just the tip of the iceberg.
Most foodborne illness can be avoided if food is handled properly. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that during the five year period 1993-1997, the most commonly reported food preparation practice that contributed to foodborne disease was improper holding temperatures, followed by poor personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, contaminated equipment, and food from an unsafe source, as shown on this pie chart.
What is foodborne illness?
A foodborne illness is a disease that is transmitted to humans by food. Recent developments in diagnosing and tracking reported illnesses have helped the public become more aware that certain types of illness may be related to the food they ate prior to becoming sick.
The U.S. Public Health Service classifies moist, high-protein, and/or low acid foods as potentially hazardous. High protein foods consist, in whole or in part, of milk or milk products, shell eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacea (shrimp, lobster, crab). Baked or boiled potatoes, tofu and other soy protein foods, plant foods that have been heat-treated, and raw seed sprouts (such as alfalfa or bean sprouts) also pose a hazard. These foods can support rapid growth of infectious or disease-causing microorganisms.