Food-Borne Illness: Prevention and Treatment

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  • 0:01 What Is Food-Borne Illness?
  • 0:54 Prevention
  • 2:47 Treatment
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Ricketts

Donna Ricketts is a health educator with 15 years of professional experience designing health and wellness programs for adults and children.

Food can be contaminated in many ways. In this lesson, you'll learn about food-borne illnesses and how they infect your body. We'll also explore how food-borne illnesses can be prevented and treated.

What Is Food-Borne Illness?

A food-borne illness can be described as an infection of your digestive system caused by consuming food or beverages contaminated by harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses. There are over 200 different disease-causing microorganisms waiting for the chance to contaminate the food you eat. Three of the most common are Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. Symptoms of food-borne illnesses are not always the same but may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills. Most food-borne illnesses are acute, meaning they happen all of a sudden and last for a short time, usually one or two days.


Your food can become contaminated with dangerous microorganisms at any point before you eat. You can minimize your chances of getting a food-borne illness by correctly storing, cooking, cleaning, and handling food. Here are a few suggestions on what can be done to prevent food-borne illnesses.

Store raw and cooked perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer promptly. Make sure your refrigerator is set to the correct settings to ensure proper storage. Frozen food should be thawed in the refrigerator or in the microwave and cooked immediately.

Cook foods like seafood, eggs, poultry, and meat completely. For meat and poultry, make sure that juices are clear, not pink. A meat thermometer should be used to ensure foods are cooked inside. Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling. Always reheat cooked food thoroughly.

Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting, or cooking. A produce brush can be used to clean fruits and vegetables with firm skin. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, produce, or eggs, as well as after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or touching animals. Wash utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they have been used.

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