Food Safety

Promoting a food-safe culture to protect America’s workforce

Each year 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne diseases and 3,000 die as a result of unsafe food. Foodborne illness is estimated to cost the United States more than $15.5 billion annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fights foodborne diseases to protect American consumers and businesses from contaminated foods.

Healthy Workforce

Business Challenges

Foodborne diseases are challenging for America’s employers—from rising healthcare costs associated with treating foodborne illnesses to lost worker productivity. Unsafe food that makes people sick has a ripple effect on businesses, communities and the U.S. economy.

Additionally, today’s food production is more centralized and globalized than ever. Food takes a more complex route from farm to table. These changes require creating and implementing new ways to help keep America’s food safe.

Each Year,

1 in 6 Americans
(or 48 Million People)

get sick from a foodborne disease that interferes with work or school.

Source: Scallan, 2011

Foodborne illness rates

Reducing rates by 10% would keep 5 MILLION

Americans from getting sick each year

For grocery producing companies facing a recall in the past 5 years:

Financial Impact
Source: Grocery Manufacturers Association, 2011

America’s food safety challenges continue to be unpredictable because of:

A rising number of multistate outbreaks that are complex to track and resolve

New and emerging germs and toxins, and a rise in antibiotic resistance

Changes in America’s food production and supply, including centralization of production chains and more imported foods

New and different foods that get contaminated and cause illnesses

Did you know?

CDC does not regulate food

CDC does not regulate food production or recall contaminated food products. Other agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, coordinate these efforts.

Who gets sick?

Certain people — many of whom are in the workforce or would require care from employees — are more likely to get sick from contaminated food and require hospitalization.

Learn More

Many types of food can
spread illness

Foodborne outbreaks are important learning opportunities to reduce the number of people who get sick and prevent the next outbreak.

Food safety in
restaurants is vital

In 2013, 60 percent of outbreaks and 51 percent of outbreak-associated illnesses were related to food that was prepared in a restaurant.


CDC Business Benefits

CDC protects America’s businesses, employees and their families by linking illness in people to specific foods, and informing food safety policies and practices to make food safer and save lives.

Data and analyses

CDC’s comprehensive data and analyses inform prevention and policy decisions by:

Estimating the impact of foodborne disease on America’s health

Tracking trends in illnesses and outbreaks

Estimating the number of illnesses associated with specific foods and settings

Tracking antibiotic-resistant infections

Detection and investigation

CDC detects and investigates outbreaks to stop their spread and learn how to prevent the next one by:

Advancing “DNA fingerprinting” of germs to detect and define outbreaks faster by matching up bacteria from sick people in many locations, using a national network of state and local laboratories

Conducting more than

25 national or multistate

outbreak investigations, and more than 1,000 state and local ones, each year

Improved prevention

CDC works with partners, including the food industry, to respond faster to outbreaks and improve prevention of foodborne illnesses by:

Building state and local investigative public health capacity

Working closely with state and local health departments and federal regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and USDA, to keep food safe

Developing the next generation of technology for detecting foodborne outbreaks

Sharing data and information to improve food safety practices


Take Action

CDC guidance can help employers improve food safety in the workplace and make food safety part of company culture. Access CDC’s resources to better protect your business and keep your employees safe from foodborne illness.

For General Business

Educate Employees

Help employees learn about how to protect themselves and their families from foodborne illness

Follow the cook, clean, chill and separate guidelines at work and at home

When in doubt, throw it out—throw away food if it has been recalled, or if you are not sure if it is safe to eat

If you believe you or someone you know has a foodborne illness, see a doctor and contact your local health department

Help employees learn who is at higher risk for foodborne illness so they can determine if they, or anyone in their family, are in a high-risk group

Are your employees...

Check restaurant inspection scores
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Make sure the restaurant’s tables, floors and utensils are clean
Check that food is cooked thoroughly
Properly handle leftovers:

Refrigerate them within two hours of eating out (within one hour in temperatures above 90°F) and eat leftovers within three to four days

Keep the break room refrigerator at or below 40°F, using a thermometer to be sure

Provide microwaves, marked with power output, that are at least 1300 watts to heat food

Provide adequate hand-washing facilities in restrooms and anywhere food is prepared, including break rooms

Provide hand sanitizer if running water and soap are not available

Follow state and local guidelines for safe food handling

Require kitchen managers to be trained and certified in food safety

Require food service workers to stay home when sick with vomiting and diarrhea for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop

Keep hot food at an internal temperature of 140°F or above

Use a food thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the food

Refrigerate cold foods at 40°F or below until ready to serve. Serve cold foods within two hours of taking out of the refrigerator

Follow the two-hour rule. Throw away all perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles that have been left at room temperature for longer than two hours (one hour in temperatures above 90°F).

Check out cdc's mobile app Can I Eat This?

For The Food Industry

Make food safety a central part of your company’s culture

Encourage all people who come into contact with food—from the farm to the table—to stay home when sick with vomiting and diarrhea for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop

Use proven preventive measures for food safety plans in all food production and service facilities

Adopt actions like good sanitation and refrigeration in all food production and service facilities for foodborne pathogen control

Promptly communicate recalls of foods at risk for contamination

Require food safety in your supply chain and keep good records of where foods and ingredients come from

Include specifications in purchasing contracts requiring antibiotics in food animals to be used only under veterinary supervision and not for growth promotion

Consider sharing the results of your company testing (product and environmental) to help improve the food safety system

Train and encourage your employees to educate consumers about recalls and food safety at point of sale

Educate your customers, including consumers, about food safety

Stay Informed

Visit CDC's website for up-to-date information about food safety, including foodborne outbreaks


For more information on CDC's work to educate Americans on food safety:

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