Foodborne diseases are the illnesses contracted from eating contaminated food or beverages. Illnesses include foodborne intoxications and infections, which are often incorrectly referred to as food poisoning. There are more than 250 different foodborne diseases. They are caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, metals, and prions. Symptoms of foodborne illness range from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening neurologic, hepatic, and renal syndromes.
Botulism, Brucellosis, Campylobacter enteritis, Escherichia coli, Hepatitis A, Listeriosis, Salmonellosis, Shigellosis, Toxoplasmosis, Viral gastroenteritis, Taeniasis and Trichinosis are examples of foodborne diseases.
The quality of food, and controls used to prevent foodborne diseases, are primarily regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local public health authorities. These diseases may be occupationally related if they affect the food processors (e.g., poultry processing workers), food preparers and servers (e.g., cooks, waiters), or workers who are provided food at the worksite. Foodborne disease is addressed in specific standards for the general and construction industries.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
- CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Classic). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Provides information on CJD and links to related topics.
- Expanded "Mad Cow" Safeguards Announced to Strengthen Existing Firewalls Against BSE Transmission. News Release, (2004, January 28).
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in a Dairy Cow --- Washington State, 2003. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 52(53); 1280-1285, (2004, January 9).
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Cosmetics. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) - About BSE. US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Provides references to current BSE issues, trade initiatives, and general BSE information.
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Resources. US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Fact Sheets. Provides links to news releases and transcripts relating to BSE.
- News Release. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) News Release No. 0457.04, (2004, October 22).
- Veneman Announces Additional Protection Measures To Guard Against BSE. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) News Release, (2003, December 30).