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Food Safety Information

Food-related diseases affect tens of millions of people and kill thousands. Tracking single cases of foodborne illness and investigating outbreaks are critical public health functions in which CDC is deeply involved. The Epidemiological Division of the Department of Health tracks food-related diseases in the District.

Causes of Food Poisoning
Each year, millions of people in the United States get sick from contaminated food. Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of food poisoning, but other causes include viruses, parasites, toxins and contaminants. Symptoms of food poisoning include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms may range from mild to severe.

What Is a Food Illness Outbreak?
When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne outbreak. Public health officials investigate outbreaks to control them, so more people do not get sick in the outbreak, and to learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.

Long-Term Effects
One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Most of them will recover without any lasting effects from their illness. For some, however, the effects can be devastating and even deadly.

Serious long-term effects associated with several common types of food poisoning include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic arthritis
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Death

Information taken from the Food Safety.gov website.

Service Contact: 
Bioterrorism Division of the Department of Health - HEPRA
Contact Phone: 
(202) 671-4222
Contact Fax: 
(202) 671-0707
Contact TTY: 
711
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday, 8:15 am to 4:45 pm