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What is the Norovirus (Norwalk Virus) |

Norovirus (Norwalk Virus)

Home > Food Poisoning > Causes > Bacteria and Viruses > Norovirus (Norwalk Virus)

NorovirusNoroviruses are the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis (infection of the stomach and intestines) in the United States. Norovirus illness spreads easily and is often called stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis,

People who are infected can spread it directly to other people, or can contaminate food or drinks they prepare for other people. The virus can also survive on surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus or be spread through contact with an infected person.

Sources Produce, shellfish, ready-to-eat foods touched by infected food workers (salads, sandwiches, ice, cookies, fruit), or any other foods contaminated with vomit or feces from an infected person
Incubation Period 12-48 hours
Symptoms Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea,and stomach pain. Diarrhea tends to be watery and non-bloody. Diarrhea is more common in adults and vomiting is more common in children
Duration of Illness 1-3 days. Among young children, old adults, and hospitalized patients, it can last 4-6 days.
What Do I Do? Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration, call your doctor.
How Do I Prevent It?
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, particularly after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  • If you work in a restaurant or deli, avoid bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces contaminated by vomiting or diarrhea (use a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the label). Clean and disinfect food preparation equipment and surfaces.
  • If you are ill with diarrhea or vomiting, do not cook, prepare, or serve food for others.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
  • Wash clothing or linens soiled by vomit or fecal matter immediately. Remove the items carefully to avoid spreading the virus. Machine wash and dry.

General Information

Norovirus Infection (National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases)
General information on causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Norovirus (CDC)
General information, including questions and answers, as well as information for food handlers and healthcare facilities.

Norwalk virus family (FDA)
From the Bad Bug Book; provides basic facts, including associated foods, frequency of disease, complications, and target populations.

Facts About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships (CDC)
Find out why norovirus outbreaks are associated with cruise ships.

Norovirus: Facts for Food Handlers (CDC)
How norovirus is spread through foods and tips for preventing its spread.

When is my food thoroughly cooked? |

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures

Home > Keep Food Safe > Charts: Food Safety at a Glance

Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

Remember, you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it. Any cooked, uncured red meats – including pork – can be pink, even when the meat has reached a safe internal temperature.

Why the Rest Time is Important

After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

Category Food Temperature (°F) Rest Time
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking. None
Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. None

Eggs and Egg Products |

Eggs and Egg Products

#KeepFoodSafe #Food #Eggs

From May 1 to September 14, 2010, over 1600 reported cases of Salmonella Enteritidis infections were associated with contaminated shell eggs.

More information:

EggsEggs are one of nature’s most nutritious and economical foods. But, you must take special care with handling and preparing fresh eggs and egg products to avoid food poisoning.

Egg Basics

Thorough cooking is an important step in making sure eggs are safe.

  • Scrambled eggs: Cook until firm, not runny.
  • Fried, poached, boiled, or baked: Cook until both the white and the yolk are firm.
  • Egg mixtures, such as casseroles: Cook until the center of the mixture reaches 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.

Egg Recipes: Playing It Safe

  • Homemade ice cream and eggnog are safe if you do one of the following:
    • Use a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer to ensure that it reaches 160 °F.
    • Use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
  • Dry meringue shells, divinity candy, and 7-minute frosting are safe — these are made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. However, avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
  • Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. But avoid chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites — instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
  • Adapting Recipes: If your recipe calls for uncooked eggs, make it safe by doing one of the following:
    • Heating the eggs in one of the recipe’s other liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then, combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe. Or use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
    • Using pasteurized eggs or egg products.

Note: Egg products, such as liquid or frozen egg substitute, are pasteurized, so it’s safe to use them in recipes that will be not be cooked. However, it’s best to use egg products in a recipe that will be cooked, especially if you are serving pregnant women, babies, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

General Information

Egg Storage Chart
Details on refrigerating and freezing raw eggs, cooked eggs, and egg dishes.

Egg Safety and Eating Out
Practical things that you can do to keep your family safe.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Salmonella from Eggs (CDC)
If eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, Salmonella bacteria can cause illness.

Playing it Safe With Eggs: What Consumers Need to Know (FDA)
How to buy, cook, serve, store, and transport fresh eggs to avoid salmonella poisoning. From Consumer Information about Egg Safety.

Egg Products and Food Safety (USDA)
How to use liquid, frozen, and dried egg products safely.

Shell Eggs from Farm to Table (USDA)
Answers to questions on eggs, from how often a hen lays an egg to the safety of Easter eggs to egg storage guidelines.

Sprouts: What You Should Know |

Posted by Vicky Colas

Sprouts: What You Should Know

Home > Keep Food Safe > By Types of Food > Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, and Juices

Do sprouts carry a risk of illness? Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.

Have sprouts been associated with outbreaks of foodborne illness? Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli.

What is the source of the bacteria? In outbreaks associated with sprouts, the seed is typically the source of the bacteria. There are a number of approved techniques to kill harmful bacteria that may be present on seeds and even tests for seeds during sprouting. But, no treatment is guaranteed to eliminate all harmful bacteria.

Are homegrown sprouts safer? Not necessarily. If just a few harmful bacteria are present in or on the seed, the bacteria can grow to high levels during sprouting, even under sanitary conditions at home.

What can industry do to enhance the safety of sprouts? In 1999, the FDA provided the sprout industry with guidance on reducing the risk of contamination of sprouts by harmful bacteria. The FDA and other Federal and state agencies continue to work with industry on detecting and reducing contamination and keeping contaminated sprouts out of the marketplace.

What can consumers do to reduce the risk of illness?

  • Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
  • Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Cooking kills the harmful bacteria.
  • Request that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you purchase a sandwich or salad at a restaurant or delicatessen, check to make sure that raw sprouts have not been added.

General Information

Safe Eats: Fruits, Veggies, and Juices (FDA)
Guidelines for safe eating during pregnancy include warnings about sprouts.

Background on Previous Outbreaks

Raw Alfalfa Spouts Linked to Salmonella Contamination (FDA)
FDA recommendations to consumers in response to the Spring 2009 outbreak.

Investigation of an Outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul Infections Linked to Raw Alfalfa Sprouts (CDC)
Includes a map showing the number of cases by state in the Spring 2009 outbreak.

Food Poisoning |

Posted by Vicky Colas

Food Poisoning

Home > Food Poisoning

Food poisoningFood poisoning (also known as foodborne illness or foodborne disease) is any illness that results from eating contaminated food.


Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of food poisoning, but other causes include viruses, parasites, toxins and contaminants.

The organisms that cause the most illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States are:

Long-Term Effects

One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. Most of them will recover without any lasting effects from their illness. For some, however, the effects can be devastating and even deadly.

Serious long-term effects associated with several common types of food poisoning include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic arthritis
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Death

Who’s at Risk

Certain groups of people are more susceptible to foodborne illness. This means that they are more likely to get sick from contaminated food and, if they do get sick, the effects are much more serious. These groups include:

How Government Responds

Find out how your local, state, and federal government agencies detect, investigate, and control food illness outbreaks. Learn more