Protect Your Family from Food Poisoning

The Basics
You can get food poisoning from eating bad (contaminated) food. Protect your family by buying, storing, and preparing foods safely.

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When you shop, keep raw meat and seafood away from the cooked and ready-to-eat food in your cart.

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The Basics

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Food poisoning (or foodborne illness) happens when you get sick from eating or drinking something that has harmful germs in it – like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Some common causes of food poisoning are norovirus, Campylobacter, E. coli and Salmonella.

Following good habits like these can help protect you and your family from food poisoning:

What causes food poisoning?

You can get food poisoning from eating bad (contaminated) food. Bacteria and viruses are the most common causes of food poisoning. These germs can get into food in several ways.

How do I know if I have food poisoning?

Some signs of food poisoning include:

Signs of food poisoning can start hours, days, or even weeks after eating bad food. Usually the effects only last for 1 or 2 days, but they can last up to 2 weeks.

The treatment for most cases of food poisoning is to drink lots of fluids, like water. For a more serious illness, you may need treatment at a hospital.

When do I need to see a doctor?

Get medical help right away if you:

Who needs to be concerned about food poisoning?

Anyone can get sick from eating bad food. But food poisoning is a serious health risk for some people.

Get tips on food safety for people at higher risk:

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Follow these simple steps to keep your family safe from food poisoning.

Shop smart when you buy food.

Shop at stores that look clean. A dirty store can be a sign that food hasn’t been stored safely.

Follow these other safety tips when you choose food at the store:

Make sure frozen food stays frozen.

Plan ahead to get food home safely.

Put cold foods into a refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible.

To keep cold foods safe, follow these tips:

Protect yourself from food poisoning at home.

After you get your groceries home and stored away safely, use the following tips to help prevent food poisoning.

Keep your hands clean.

Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially:

Wash anything that touches food.

Make sure to wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils (like knives and spoons), and counters with hot, soapy water after preparing food.

Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from uncooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and another one for foods that won't be cooked (like vegetables and fruits). If you have only one cutting board, wash it with hot soapy water after you prepare each type of food.

Place cooked food on a clean plate. Don’t use a plate that had raw or uncooked food on it – especially raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

Prepare food safely.

Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water, even if you plan to cut or peel them.

Make sure food is safely cooked.

You can’t tell if meat, poultry, and eggs are cooked all the way through just by looking at them.

The only way to be sure food is cooked safely is to use a food thermometer. A food thermometer checks the temperature inside the food to make sure the food is safe to eat.

Keep cold foods cold.

Refrigerate or freeze all food that can go bad if it’s left at room temperature (like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and prepared foods).

Check the settings on your refrigerator and freezer. Set the temperatures to:

Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer to make sure they're staying at the correct temperatures.

Throw away food that’s been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If it’s a hot day (over 90 °F), throw away food that's been left out for more than 1 hour.

Use foods that need to be kept in the refrigerator (dairy, meat, poultry, seafood, fruits, and vegetables) before they spoil and are unsafe to eat.  Find out how long foods can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Stay safe from food poisoning when you eat out.

These tips can help you enjoy healthy, safe meals away from home.

Start Today: Small Steps

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