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Foodborne Illness

Report a Foodborne Illness (food poisoning) - Click here if you think you got sick from eating at a restaurant in Washtenaw County!

What is Foodborne Illness?

Foodborne illness occurs when a person gets sick by eating food that has been contaminated with an unwanted microorganism or pathogen. This condition is often called "food poisoning". Bacteria, parasites and viruses are microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness. Many cases of foodborne illness go unreported because their symptoms often resemble the stomach flu. The most common symptoms of foodborne illness include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Who Can Get a Foodborne Illness?

Anyone can be affected by the organisms that cause foodborne illnesses. However, a few groups are especially susceptible to foodborne illness.

  • Infants and children
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly adults
  • People with AIDS, Cancer, or who are otherwise immuno-compromised

What Causes Foodborne Illness?

Bacteria-related food poisoning is the most common form, but fewer than 20 of the thousands of different bacteria actually are the culprits. More than 90% of the cases of foodborne illnesses each year are caused by:

For more information on other causes of foodborne illness, visit the Food and Drug Administration's
Bad Bug Book website.

Most foodborne illnesses can be linked to three main food handling mistakes:

  • time and temperature abuse
  • improper handwashing and other poor personal hygiene habits
  • cross-contamination of raw foods and ready-to-eat foods

Methods for the prevention of foodborne illnesses are given in the following sections of this site:

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