Reporting a foodborne illness

Steps to take when reporting a foodborne illness.

Have you ever wondered what to do if you suspect you or others have contracted a foodborne illness? There are some specific steps that need to be taken in order to determine if what you suspect is actually foodborne illness.

The very first thing you should do is to see a medical professional. They will be able to begin the necessary tests for proper diagnosis. A foodborne illness is not something you want to guess at. Relay all the information you can to the physician, such as what you have eaten, where you ate and how long before the symptoms appeared. This is all very important information to correctly identify which foodborne illness you may have contracted. If it truly is a foodborne illness, the medical professionals will then contact the local health authorities.

If you choose to not seek medical attention but feel you became sick from food, then you should call the local Health Department. They will gather information from you to help identify what, where, and how the potential foodborne illness was contracted. These steps are important to follow so that if there is an outbreak, they will be able to stop progression of the spread of the illness to others.

This may seem like a simple process but in order to identify or label any illness a foodborne outbreak three things have to happen.

  • Two or more people have to display the same symptoms after eating the same food
  • The Health Department must begin an investigation
  • A laboratory analysis has to confirm that it is a foodborne illness

Michigan State University always recommends following these steps if you suspect a foodborne illness has occurred. Then let the authorities handle things properly. You can contribute to food safety by washing your hands before handling food and after using the rest room, cooking, chilling, separating and cleaning foods and food preparation areas properly.

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