Protecting You From Foodborne Illness
In Washington, about 40 to 60 foodborne illness outbreaks affecting 400 to 700 people occur each year. Because many milder cases aren't diagnosed or reported, the actual number of people ill may be many times greater, in the tens of thousands. Foodborne illness can be serious, often resulting in lost work days, hospitalization, or even death.
While large outbreaks tend to be associated with restaurants and other food service settings, home kitchens are also commonly implicated as a source of outbreaks. Despite advances in food safety, preventing foodborne illness and death remains a major public health challenge.
The Food Safety Program is a progressive team dedicated to promoting safe practices in retail and food service settings to minimize the incidence of foodborne illness. We work in partnership with the food service industry and local, state, and federal agencies, in particular local health departments. In close collaboration with these partners, our program focuses on activities to: strengthen regulation and polices for prevention of foodborne illness; educate public health professionals, food service employees, and consumers on safe practices; and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks and food-related emergencies.
Resources We Provide
Local Health Department Food Safety Contacts - Local health agency contacts for the food worker card or making complaints about a food establishment.
You and Your Family Food Safety - Foodborne illnesses, videos, seasonal food safety tips, potentially hazardous foods like raw milk and eggs, and food safety myths.
Recalls and Safety Alerts - Food recalls affecting Washington State.
Restaurant Inspection Reports - Many local health departments have their restaurant inspection reports online.
Local Heath Resources - Investigating foodborne illness, publication ordering, and other resources for local health agencies.
Food Industry Resources - Food safety regulations and how to obtain the food worker card.
Helping Local and National Partners
The Food Safety Program works with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure food served and supplied to the public by Washington State retail and food service establishments is safe. The following program activities help support our partners in addressing food safety:
- Provide technical assistance and training on how to reduce known risk factors associated with foodborne illness.
- Assist partners on conducting investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks.
- Promote consistent interpretation and implementation of the food service rules statewide by initiating the Food Safety Review Council with this sole purpose and by responding to inquiries from partners.
- Interact closely with local, state, and federal partners, such as Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture, and coordinate timely responses to statewide food recalls and safety alerts.
- Foster the best use of current knowledge involving state and national foodborne illness data, known risk factors, and partners' input in program operations and in the amendment of food service regulations.
State Facilities Inspection Program
The Food Safety Program regulates the following state facilities and institutions to protect public health and ensure food safety practices are being followed. These facilities are inspected regularly at a frequency that considers risk, volume, and past performance. To report a foodborne illness complaint at one of these facilities, call 360-236-3330 (Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm). For holidays and time outside our business hours, contact our Emergency Telephone Service at 206-418-5500.
- Washington State Ferries
- Washington State Patrol Academy – Shelton
- Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center – Burien
- Washington State Patrol Fire Training Academy – North Bend
- Western State Hospital – Lakewood
- Bellevue College – Bellevue
- Green River College – Auburn
- Highline College – Des Moines
- North Seattle College – Seattle
- Seattle Central College – Seattle
- Seattle Culinary Academy – Seattle
- Shoreline College – Shoreline
- South Seattle College – Seattle