Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness, (also called food poisoning) is caused by eating and drinking contaminated foods or beverages. Foodborne illness is a common and costly public health problem. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing germs can contaminate foods, so there are many different types of illnesses. Foodborne illness is preventable. Learn how to protect yourself from foodborne illness.

Report Illness or a Food Safety Concern

To report a suspected foodborne illness or file a complaint about unsafe food handling practices at a restaurant, contact your local health department.

Coming Soon! We're creating an online form, called the Foodborne Illness Notification System, to make it easier to report confirmed or suspected food poisoning and file a complaint about a restaurant. 

Last Meal Note: People often associate their illness with the last food or meal they consumed. While some germs can cause illness as quickly as 30 minutes, many germs take up to three days or longer to develop symptoms. When thinking about what might have made you sick, it is helpful to review and report the food items you ate over the last several days. 


When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne illness outbreak. View a list of foodborne illness outbreak investigations and current state and national outbreaks.

You can also sign up for our Foodborne Illness Outbreak Alert emails.

Common Causes of Foodborne Illness

People at High Risk

Everyone is at risk for foodborne illness. People at higher risk for developing an illness include:

  • Infants and children under 5.
  • Older adults over 65.
  • Pregnant women and their unborn babies.
  • People with weakened immune systems.
  • People traveling outside the U.S.

More Resources

Family Food Safety – Food safety videos, food recalls, and more.

Community Food Safety – Food worker card, food code rules, restaurant inspections, and local health agency contacts.

Public Health Partners: Report Foodborne Disease Outbreaks


Content Source: Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Food Safety Program