Foodborne illness

We explain what to do about a possible foodborne illness outbreak.

Prevent foodborne illnesses

Minimize your risk of foodborne illness. Review your business's food handling practices.

Risk factors

The five main risk factors for foodborne illnesses:

  • Improper hot and cold holding of food
  • Not cooking foods to proper temperatures
  • Cross-contaminating food
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Purchasing food from unsafe sources

Reduce risks

  • Keep cold foods below 41 degrees.
  • Keep hot foods above 135 degrees.
    • When holding hot foods, check the temperature every two hours.
    • Reheat if needed to maintain a safe holding temperature.
  • Prepare raw meat, poultry, seafood and ready to eat ingredients separately. Use separate cutting boards, equipment and utensils or clean and sanitize all equipment and utensils after working with each ingredient.
  • Anyone handling food should practice good personal hygiene, for example:
    • Wash hands properly
    • Avoid bare hand contact with ready to eat foods
  • Purchase food from approved, reputable suppliers. Know your suppliers and their food safety practices.

For more food safety information, visit the Minnesota Department of Health Food Business Safety.

Common foodborne illnesses


Norovirus infection is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States.

Norovirus is very contagious. Protect your patrons, employees and yourself with proper handwashing and a clear employee health policy.

Employees must stay out of work when ill with vomiting or diarrhea. Employees should not return to work until at least 24 hours have passed without having vomiting or diarrhea.

Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds:

  • Before working with food.
  • After handling raw animal products.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After any activity that contaminates the hands.
  • Wash your hands more often when someone in your household is sick.


Vibrio usually comes from contaminated raw shellfish. A healthy person who is exposed to Vibrio may experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain

At greater risk for vibrio:

  • People with compromised immune systems
  • Pregnant women


More resources

Find more information about foodborne illnesses.

Minnesota Health Department Food Business Safety

Centers for Disease Control


Read how to handle employee illness

Foodborne illness hotline

If you think you ate or drank something that made you sick, call 1-877-FOOD-Ill (1-877-366-3455).

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Contact us

Environmental Health

Minneapolis Health Department




Public Service Center
505 Fourth Ave S, Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415