The Most Common Foodborne Illnesses

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forty-eight million individuals get sick from foodborne diseases or food poisoning every year and thousands die. Those most at risk from foodborne illness include the very young and the very old, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. Eating food contaminated by bacteria or viruses results in some or all of these symptoms: nausea, stomach pains, cramps, diarrhea, and fever. More severe cases require hospitalization for convulsions, bloody diarrhea, organ failure, and miscarriage. While there are more than two hundred foodborne diseases identified, a few are more common than others and sicken individuals more often. You are probably familiar with the foodborne illness outbreaks in 2018 like contaminated breakfast cereal and contaminated romaine lettuce. Read on for more about recent common foodborne illness outbreaks, their causes, and prevention.



Salmonella is the bacteria that causes an infection of the intestinal tract. It lives in the intestinal tracts of animals, including birds, and is most commonly contracted by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Foods are contaminated when handled by individuals who don’t wash their hands thoroughly or when there’s a contamination in the harvesting and processing of foods. It can also occur by transfer or touching something contaminated, especially birds and reptiles. Symptoms of infection include nausea and vomiting, painful stomach cramps, diarrhea, headache, fever, and chills. Prevention includes washing hands thoroughly throughout food handling and preparation, and proper cooking and cold storage, taking care to avoid cross-contamination and keeping raw foods separate.

Sources of salmonella in 2018 include contaminated breakfast cereal, raw chicken, backyard chickens, and packaged prepared pasta salad. Individuals in nineteen states became ill after eating a popular brand of breakfast cereal since March 2018, causing a product recall. In September 2017, individuals in four states became ill after eating kosher chicken. A packaged pasta salad was recalled for possible contamination in July 2018 after individuals in nine states became sick after eating it.

Continue reading to reveal the next most common foodborne illness now.