Preventing Foodborne Illnesses

Foodborne Illnesses constitute a significant health issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that identified over 25,000 cases of food poisoning in 2018, leading to 120 deaths. Disturbingly, the instances of Campylobacter and Salmonella are increasing. Better prevention methods can make food safer for consumers. Are you doing everything you can to prevent foodborne illness?

Common Foodborne Illnesses

What are some of the most rivaled foes of the food service industry? Words like Salmonella and E.coli can stain your reputation for years, but what is the difference? Allow us to break down these diseases from one another.


Campylobacter is the top cause of foodborne illness. Most cases occur as isolated incidents, not as part of massive outbreaks. Consequently it comes from consuming under cooked poultry, unpasteurized milk, or contaminated water.


Similarly, Salmonella is another common cause of foodborne disease in the United States. Infections come from eggs, poultry, meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables. The disease lies in unpasteurized milk or juice. It can also come from touching contaminated animals.

E. Coli

E. coli bacteria lives in intestines. Most strains are harmless, but some cause illness. This harmful bacteria hides in under cooked ground beef, raw milk, and fresh sprouts. Also noteworthy, it can come from drinking or swimming in contaminated water or coming into contact with animal or human waste.


Yersinia comes from digesting under cooked pork. The CDC estimates Yersinia causes about 117,000 illnesses, 640 hospitalizations, and 35 deaths annually in the US.


Shigella causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after exposure. Some infected people have no symptoms at all, but still carry the bacteria. Shigella germs can contaminate fruits and vegetables.


There are also many different strands of Vibrio bacteria that live in warm ocean water. Vibrio bacteria affect raw shellfish, particularly oysters. It seems like there are dangers around every corner!

Prevention Basics

Commercial kitchens need to adhere to strict safety standards to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses to guests. Basic prevention measures go a long way in food safety.

  • Always wash hands before preparing food
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure cooked meat is at a safe temperature
  • Maintain proper refrigeration temperatures
  • Separate raw meat from other foods
  • Wash fruits and vegetables
  • Do not use utensils on cook food that you also used on uncooked food
  • Fully-cook oysters and discard any closed shells after cooking
  • Sanitize equipment between uses

Cleaning a Commercial Kitchen

Without proper sanitation, bacteria can grow and spread in commercial kitchens. Ensuring a clean, healthy environment should be the top priority for kitchen staff. Strict cleaning protocols combat the bacteria that lead to food poisoning. General cleaning guidelines included requiring staff to clean all surfaces and equipment after each use.

Daily cleaning should consist of:

  • Disinfecting prep surfaces
  • Cleaning your grill, range, flattop, and fryer. (Don’t forget to wash behind)
  • Washing can openers, meat slicers, etc.
  • Wiping walls wherever there are splashes
  • Sweeping and mopping floors
  • Washing beverage dispenser heads
  • Disinfecting interior and exterior of trash cans

Sanitize After Raw Food Prep

Use hot, soapy water to thoroughly clean surfaces and equipment that contact raw meat, poultry, fish, and eggs before moving on the next step in food preparation. Disposable paper towels are more sanitary than reusable towels. However, if you do use dishcloths immediately place them in a designated laundry bin. Wash them often in hot water. Never reuse a dirty cloth.

Sanitize cutting boards in a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach diluted in a gallon of water. Soak for several minutes and air dry. Always serve cooked products on a clean plate. Wash the food thermometer in hot soapy water after each use.

Bacteria are everywhere, so keeping your commercial kitchen clean is key to preventing foodborne illnesses. Proper sanitation keeps consumers safe.


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Emily Jean Roche

PJP Brand Ambassador

Emily Jean is a blogger and content marketing freelance writer. She crafts compelling copy across many industries, including residential and commercial janitorial services, healthcare services, and B2B marketing firms. Emily loves strong coffee and YA novels. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, daughters, and backyard chickens.

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