Foodborne illness complaints
It is estimated that up to 48 million people get a foodborne illness in the United States each year. Most illnesses are infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Others are caused by harmful toxins or chemicals in food. For most people who get a foodborne illness, the precise cause is never determined because many people don't get sick enough to go to the doctor, and of those who do see a doctor, laboratory testing often isn't done. This makes it hard to keep accurate statistics on foodborne illness. An estimated 128,000 people a year are hospitalized for foodborne illness in the United States, and 3,000 die. Foodborne illness is most dangerous for the very young, the very old, and those whose immune systems are weak. Foodborne illness investigations are initiated in response to reports of suspected foodborne illnesses by citizens, health care professionals, and restaurants.
Surveillance for foodborne illnesses is done through reportable conditions (e.g., enteric diseases including Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Vibrio, typhoid fever) and through reports of possible foodborne illness complaints and outbreaks.
Resources for the general public
- Questions and Answers about Foodborne Illness, CDC
- King County Food Protection Program
- Foodborne illness outbreaks in King County: Investigation summaries