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Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

Many people experience food poisoning at one point or another. Its flu-like symptoms can include vomiting, sweating, diarrhea, aches, and even fever. The condition can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening.

You might think that a bout of food poisoning is a typical experience, but it is a condition that should be reported through proper channels.

The Benefits of Reporting Foodborne Illness

When you report food poisoning to your local health department, you are allowing them to track foodborne illnesses accurately. Reporting it can also prevent others from being exposed to the same contaminants you experienced.

Track Foodborne Illness

Local health departments keep track of foodborne illness outbreaks. They record how many people come down with related food poisoning and the bacteria involved. This allows health departments to be thoroughly prepared for potential outbreaks now and in the future.

Find the Source of Illness

By collecting information about a foodborne illness outbreak, local health departments can determine the source of contamination. This allows them to complete necessary inspections and prevent future illness.

Common sources of foodborne illness include restaurants and foods from grocery stores. Local health departments are responsible for ensuring these companies are maintaining health standards.

If people get food poisoning from a restaurant or grocery store product, the health department will have to enforce corrective action.

Prevent Others from Getting Food Poisoning

When you report food poisoning, local authorities will review your recent food history. They will compare it with any other reports of foodborne illness. Once the health department determines a likely source of food poisoning, they can work to prevent others from getting sick.

That may include removing a product or food from a grocery store or restaurant menu or even shutting down an establishment until they comply with health department regulations.

How to Report Food Poisoning

Most foodborne illness goes unreported in the United States. However, state and local health departments encourage the public to report any confirmed cases of food poisoning and potentially related issues, even if you don’t know the source.

Here are the steps you can take to report food poisoning to the appropriate authorities.

Step 1: Get Medical Attention

Not only do you need to care for yourself if you are experiencing symptoms of food poisoning, but you also need to confirm your diagnosis for documentation purposes.

A medical professional can order tests to determine what type of bacteria or virus made you sick. This also helps them figure out how to treat your symptoms.

Step 2: Document Your Food History

Your doctor and the local health department will want to know where you got food poisoning. You can help them by documenting all the food you have eaten over the last several days and where it came from. You should write this information in a notebook for easy reference.

Step 3: Ask Your Physician to Report Your Illness

Many foodborne illnesses, such as E.coli, must be reported to state and local health departments. However, some are not. You can directly ask your doctor to report your illness to the authorities.

Step 4: Report Your Illness

Whether or not your doctor reports your foodborne illness, you can report it to your local health department. This can typically be done with a phone call or online form submission.

Step 5: Call a Food Poisoning Lawyer

You may have significant medical bills and even lost wages after a severe bout with food poisoning. You can recover compensation for those losses. An experienced food poisoning lawyer will represent your rights to get the money you need to cover your damages.

Call OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

Determining exactly what to do when you have food poisoning can be difficult. You should always opt to report your foodborne illness to prevent the spread to others. If you have questions about how to proceed, contact OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers at 888-828-7087 or use our online form to reach out.

Notable Recoveries

$10 million

Seven infants were sickened after consuming a contaminated food product marketed to infants

$6.5 million

Verdict on behalf of a little boy who contracted a severe Salmonella infection from chicken

$7.55 million

Verdict on behalf of a little girl who contracted E. coli at a petting zoo

$2.25 million

E. coli infections contracted from a major fast food chain

$45 million

An over-the-counter medication caused severe kidney damage to multiple users

$3.4 million

A pregnant woman contracted a Listeria infection from contaminated fruit and passed the infection to her child

$3 million

Multistate Cyclospora outbreaks


A couple contracted Salmonella from a restaurant


A pedestrian was struck by a left-turning car, fracturing her tibia


A semi-truck rear-ended a motorcyclist causing a collapsed lung, rib fractures and road rash