Foodborne illness, also called food poisoning, is a serious national public health problem. Each year it causes an estimated 48 million people to get sick, 128,000 to be hospitalized, and 3,000 to die. For most people sickened by foodborne illness it is unpleasant and uncomfortable but not serious. For those who are hospitalized, however, it is a calamity, causing suffering for victims and worry for their families and friends. What perhaps makes it worse — especially when chronic illness or death is the result — is the sad fact that so much foodborne illness is preventable by taking simple everyday food safety steps.
People at risk for foodborne illness are: