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Publication #FAR8700

General Food Safety1

Amy Simonne2

Figure 1. 
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Safe and nutritious food is essential to your family's health and well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that each year, 76 million Americans are sick from consuming contaminated foods, and about 5,000 of those people die (CDC, 2007). The importance of food safety warrants its inclusion as a separate chapter in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The major known cause of foodborne illness is due to small organisms too small to be seen by bare eyes. Signs and symptoms of foodborne illness can range from diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps, to more severe illness, such as paralysis, meningitis, or death.

Foodborne illness affects different people in different ways. For a strong, healthy person, foodborne illness can be mild, but for those who have limited ability to fight disease, it can be a life-threatening ordeal. Infants and young children, pregnant women, older adults, and those who have compromised immune systems are among the high-risk group for foodborne illnesses and should be especially careful with what they eat.

You can protect yourself from foodborne illness in a number of ways, including proper hygiene and knowing how to shop for and properly store foods. It's important for consumers to obtain accurate and up-to-date food safety information from unbiased and reputable sources. And with that, bon appetit!

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This document is FAR8700, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 095 and published December 2007. Reviewed January 2015 In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Amy Simonne, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.