Foodborne Illness and Food Complaints

Food poisoning occurs when someone gets sick after eating contaminated food or drink. It is also called foodborne illness, foodborne disease, or food infection. However, symptoms may differ among the different types of foodborne diseases. Symptoms can sometimes be severe, and some foodborne illnesses can even be life-threatening.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • upset stomach
  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • dehydration

Anyone can get a foodborne illness, but some people are more likely to develop one. They include:

  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • People with immune systems weakened from medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, organ transplants, or HIV/AIDS, or from receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
  • Pregnant women

Most people with a foodborne illness get better without medical treatment, but people with severe symptoms should see their doctor.

How Can I Report Food Poisoning?

Harris County Public Health is committed to protecting residents from the foodborne disease at any establishment or event that serves or sells food in unincorporated Harris County. We encourage residents to report any food-related illnesses or contaminated food by:

What Types of Food Cause Foodborne Poisoning?

Some foods are more associated with foodborne illnesses and food poisoning than others. They can carry harmful germs that can make you very sick if the food is contaminated.

Any food can get contaminated or “spoiled”, but the most common foods are:

  • Raw foods of animal origin, specifically raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or lightly cooked eggs, unpasteurized (raw) milk, and raw shellfish
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Any food in the field, during processing, or other stages in the food production chain, including through cross-contamination with raw meat in kitchens.
Did You Know?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from food poisoning, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

The top five germs that cause illnesses from food eaten in the United States are:

Visit the CDC Website for a list of other types of germs that can cause food-related illnesses.