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Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness (food poisoning) describes the sickness that can happen to anyone who eats food that is contaminated with germs (bacteria, viruses, parasites) or chemicals. Health Canada estimates that more than four million Canadians get food poisoning every year.1

 

 
 

Common signs and symptoms of foodborne illness

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • Fever 
  • Dehydration

Symptoms of foodborne illness may be mild and last only a few hours, or they may be severe, last longer and need medical treatment. Most foodborne illnesses are mild and usually go unreported. See causes of foodborne illness to learn more.

Who is most likely to get sick?

  • Children
  • Elderly (older) people
  • Pregnant woman
  • People with weakened immune systems

These groups are more likely to get sick from the food that they eat. If they get sick, the illness can be more serious.

 

Don't be a source of foodborne illness!

A picture of symbol that means do not work when sick

Food handlers who are sick with diarrhea and/or vomiting need to remain off work until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

 

Outbreaks

A foodborne outbreak is where a number of people become sick with a similar illness after eating a common food. Any time food makes a group of people sick, Public Health Inspectors investigate to try and find out what caused the illness. The faster an outbreak can be identified, the better chance there is to find out what food made the people sick and what can be done to prevent illness in the future.

To report a suspected case of foodborne illness (food poisoning) or an outbreak, contact a Public Health Inspector on the Environmental Health Team at:

  • Business hours - Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: 519-663-5317 ext. 2300
  • After hours, weekends and holidays: 519-663-5317 (option 2)

Don't be a source of foodborne illness!

Do not prepare food or drinks for others if you are sick with diarrhea and/or vomiting. You can easily contaminate the food and drinks that you touch, and the people who eat them can become sick.

Food workers who prepare food while sick are often linked to foodborne illness outbreaks in restaurants and other retail food establishments.

Food handlers who are sick with diarrhea and/or vomiting need to remain off work until they have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

 
Date of creation: January 29, 2013
Last modified on: October 6, 2017
 

References

1Health Canada. (2013, August 23). Food-related illnesses. Retrieved from
http://hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/ill-intox/index-eng.php
2Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). (2014). Ontario health profile infographics. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario.