Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education

The Problem - Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness, often called "food poisoning", occurs when a person gets sick from eating food that has been contaminated with bacteria, parasites or viruses, also known as 'microbes' and 'pathogens'. Foodborne illness is the largest class of emerging infectious diseases. This is due to changing population demographics, changing patterns of food production and consumption and new, re-emerging or drug resistant disease agents.

According to recent Canadian population studies, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada estimate that 11-13 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year. Foodborne illness costs Canadian health services, industry and society as a whole an estimated $12 - 15 billion dollars annually. It is estimated that between 1 in 10 and 1 in 50 cases of common foodborne bacteria related illness are reported in our monitoring systems.

Contamination may occur as food travels through long industrial chains; production and harvest, initial processing and packing, distribution, and final processing. However, it is estimated that most cases of foodborne illness occur as a result of improper food handling and preparation by the consumer.

Partnership Program

The Partnership's key messages to consumers are:
CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often;
CHILL: Refrigerate promptly;
COOK: Cook to proper temperatures; and
SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate.