Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a foodborne outbreak?
A foodborne outbreak occurs when two or more persons become ill after consuming common foods from a common place or source at a common time. This period of time can be as specific as one particular meal or event, or it can also be identified by illness caused by a food at a particular location over a period of several days.
Q: I have the food that I believe made me sick. What should I do with it?
OCCHD has no means of testing food samples for private individuals. All testing of food for private individuals must be done at their expense through a commercial laboratory that conducts bacteriological, viral or chemical testing on foods. These laboratories may be found by looking in the Yellow Pages or by searching on the internet.
Q: What are the major causes of foodborne illness in the United States?
According to the Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control, there are five major causes of foodborne illness. They are:
- Poor personal hygiene, i.e., food workers not washing their hands properly
- Inadequate cooking temperatures
- Improper holding times and temperatures that allow bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels on the food or produce toxins into the food
- Contaminated or improperly cleaned equipment that permits cross contamination from one food product to another
- Food from an unapproved source, such as home-canned or home-prepared foods
We can prevent much of the foodborne illness in the United States by washing our hands, cooking foods to the correct temperature, keeping hot foods hot/cold foods cold, and by rapidly cooling our leftover foods.
- Q: Where can I find information about a foodborne disease, such as, E Coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Norovirus etc.?
Q: I heard about a recall of a food product. Where can I find out the latest foods are that are being recalled?
Food products and other medical products are recalled by the Food and Drug Administration on a routine basis. You can find out which products are being recalled or have been recalled here. In addition to food and medical devices, the Food and Drug Administration has information about recalls affecting pet food here.