What is foodborne illness?
Foodborne illness results after consuming contaminated food or beverages. Symptoms are often flu-like in
nature, and may include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping.
Fact Sheets–Communicable Diseases
During business hours (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.), contact the Health Department at 443-643-0305 to report cases of foodborne illness associated with a food service facility. You will be asked to provide the name and location of the facility, the date and time of visit, the food consumed, and symptoms. Standard investigation procedures also require a review of your 72-hour food history, and the collection of stool and food samples. Leftover foods must be refrigerated prior to collection. The Health Department will determine if leftover food samples will be collected.
After hours, contact the Health Department at 410-877-2305.
Contact your health care provider. Positive identification of foodborne pathogens can be confirmed through stool or blood analysis.
Preventing Foodborne Illness at Home
Food safety at home is simple and requires little effort.
- Adequate handwashing continues to be the most basic aspect of safe food handling. Wash hands with soap and warm water prior to handling foods. Dry hands with paper towels, not cloth towels. Cloth towels hold moisture and are a breeding ground for microorganisms.
- Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces prior to food preparation. Bleach is an inexpensive sanitizer. Two teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water will do the trick.
- Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods during preparation and storage.
- Keep foods at safe temperatures. (Cold foods less than 40 degrees F, hot foods above 140 degrees F)
- Cook foods thoroughly prior to serving. Use a metal stem thermometer to measure the internal temperature of foods. The color of cooked meat is not always an accurate indicator of food temperature.
USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures
- Steaks & Roasts–145 degrees F
- Fish–145 degrees F
- Pork–160 degrees F
- Ground Beef–160 degrees F
- Egg Dishes–160 degrees F
- Chicken Breasts–165 degrees F
- Whole Poultry–165 degrees F
With the holidays fast approaching, we all need to keep foodborne illnesses and food preparation in mind.
Here is a document from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help keep everyone safe. Happy
For additional information about preventing foodborne illness, visit the Food and Drug Administration website.
For tips on safer eating out, visit:
Visit related sites for additional consumer food safety information:
- Gateway to Government Food Safety Information
- FDA Consumer Advice and Publications
- Seasonal Food Safety
- Mercury in Fish and Shellfish or try this website
- Food Product Dating–“Sell By”, “Use By”, “Best Used By” What does is all mean?
- Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency
- Food Safety Videos
- Food Recalls