In a perfect world, no one would get sick, least of all from eating food. Unfortunately, bacteria is naturally present in our environment and it would be impossible to eliminate all pathogens from our food chain. Therefore, bacteria may be present on food products when you purchase them and could cause foodborne illness if not properly handled.
Examples of products that may contain foodborne illnesses include raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, as well as produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts and melons. Everyone in the supply chain, including consumers, have an important role to play in reducing their risk of foodborne illness.
Foodborne illnesses are preventable through good personal hygiene, avoiding cross-contamination and adhering to proper cooking temperatures.
In case of suspected Foodborne Illness, follow these general guidelines:
1. Seek treatment as necessary. If the victim is in an “at-risk” group, seek medical care immediately. Likewise, if symptoms persist or are severe (such as bloody diarrhea, excessive nausea and vomiting, or high temperature), call your doctor.
2. Call the local health department if the suspected food was served at a large gathering, from a restaurant or other food service facility, or if it is a commercial product.
3. Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) if the suspect food is a USDA-inspected product and you have all of the packaging.
Check out the FDA’s list of what you need to know about foodborne illnesses.