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The Primary Causes of Food-Borne Illness


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified the common factors that are primarily responsible for causing foodborne illness. These include:

  1. Purchasing Food From Unsafe Sources:
    - Purchasing foods from suppliers that have not been inspected by the appropriate agency will put your customers at a higher risk of food-borne illness as their processes have not been evaluated to ensure that effective preventative measures have been taken. Please be sure to purchase all foods and food ingredients from reputable suppliers to ensure that you are providing the safest possible product to your customers.

  2. Failing to Cook Food Adequately:
    - Failing to fully cook foods to the proper internal temperature will not ensure that adequate minimum precautions have been taken to destroy any disease causing pathogens that may be present. Please be sure to fully cook all foods to the recommended internal temperature to ensure that you are serving a safe product.

  3. Holding Food at Improper Temperatures:
    - Failing to hold hot foods at 135°F or above will allow bacteria to uninhibitedly grow to levels in which disease transmission is likely. Please be sure to hold hot foods at the proper temperature to ensure that you are serving a safe product.

  4. Using Contaminated Equipment:
    - Failing to properly clean and sanitize equipment between preparation of differing foods can spread disease causing pathogens from one food to many. Please be sure to properly clean and sanitize all preparation surfaces and equipment to ensure that disease causing pathogens are not spread from one item or food type to others.

  5. Poor Personal Hygiene:
    - Failing to properly wash hands when contaminated, working while sick, and coughing or sneezing on food. All of these acts can prompt disease transmission. However, these can be easily prevented with proper employee training. Please ensure that your employees are trained in proper hygienic practices and enact an employee health policy which will exclude or restrict employees from various specific tasks if certain symptoms or illness are present.

Clayton County Board of Health
Office of Environmental Health Services

685 Forest Parkway, Forest Park, GA 30297
Phone: (678) 610-7469   Fax: (770) 603-4874